School Bus Driver Applies Active Shooter Training to Protect Students During a Hijacking
The school bus driver reacted to the hijacking appropriately thanks to safety training required by the South Carolina State Department of Education.
Columbia, S.C. — When an armed man entered a school bus carrying 18 elementary students at a bus stop in Columbia, South Carolina on May 6, the driver of the bus was able to respond appropriately because of the safety training he received. His calm demeanor during the hijacking is being praised by the Richland County School District Two as an act of heroism.
“Training does pay off and that’s why we do it,” said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott in a press conference after the incident. “From the response from the school bus driver, to the parents, to the kids, to the school district, to law enforcement, everything went in place this morning like we’ve been trained to do.”
Per requirements by the South Carolina State Department of Education, school bus drivers in the district are required to take a safety training class. The district, in a report by WLTX News 19, said the bus drivers response exemplified what they’re supposed to do in a situation such as a hijacking and active shooter situation. To stay current, school personnel and bus drivers must complete active shooter and intruder training twice a year.
The hijacker, an Army trainee in South Carolina, entered the bus as 18 children were getting on board at a bus stop. The armed suspect ran up the bus steps and pointed an unloaded military rifle at the driver.
The hijacker let the children and the driver off the bus and continued to drive for a couple of miles. He eventually got off the bus, leaving the rifle behind.
The suspect has been identified as Jovan Collazo, 23, of New Jersey, and faces charges of 19 counts of kidnapping.
Richland Two Superintendent Dr. Baron Davis told News 19 that most students returned to school on Friday, and that both the students and driver are receiving counseling. According to a May 7 report by News 19, the driver had not returned to his job and it’s unclear if and when he will.
“Right now, we just want to take care of him,” Davis said.