stock bus

Armed soldier in South Carolina hijacks school bus with 18 students on board

May 7, 2021
None of the students, who attend Forest Lake Elementary in Columbia, were injured; Jovan Collazo, 23, has been charged with kidnnapping, carjacking and other offenses.

An armed soldier stationed at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C., has been arrested after he allegedly hijacked a bus with 18 elementary school children.

The State reports that none of the students were injured, and neither was the bus driver,

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the soldier, Jovan Collazo, 23, of New Jersey, will be charged with 19 counts of kidnapping, armed robbery, carjacking, pointing and presenting a firearm, and other offenses.

Collazo was armed with a rifle when he got on a bus headed for Forest Lake Elementary School in Columbia.

Because he was in his third week of training, the soldier’s weapon, an M4 carbine, did not have any ammunition because neither live rounds nor blanks are issued at that stage, Army officials said.

Authorities say Collazo got onto the bus when it stopped to pick up children. He told the driver he didn’t want to hurt anybody and wanted to be taken to the next town

The soldier told the driver to stop and the kids and driver were allowed to get off the bus, Lett said. Collazo drove for a couple miles, but soon abandoned the bus and left his rifle on board. He was spotted on I-77 and was taken into custody without incident.

Richland 2 school district Superintendent Baron Davis issued a statement thanking police.

“Once we were certain all students were accounted for and physically safe, we immediately began deploying social and emotional counseling resources to the school so that our students could begin the process of healing as they are dealing with a traumatic event,” Davis said. “We will continue to provide counseling services for the students and their families, our bus driver and employees as long as necessary. We will also cooperate fully with law enforcement as they investigate this incident.”

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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