If it’s one thing kids are guaranteed to do, it’s ask questions. But having a curious mind probably saved the lives of a group of South Carolina children who were victims of a recent school bus hijacking. An armed U.S. Army trainee out of Fort Jackson is in custody after hijacking a school bus from an elementary school nearby that had 18 children on board, authorities said.
Jovan Collazo was only three weeks in as a trainee when he apparently decided the Army wasn’t for him and wanted to return to his home state of New Jersey. He’s accused of leaving the base with an army-assigned rifle–later found to be without ammunition–and trying to flag down motorists before spotting a school bus stop, NBC News reports.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Collazo “told the bus driver that he didn’t want to hurt him, but he wanted him to drive him to the next town.” Lott said Collazo then brought all 18 children to the front of the bus, where they “started asking lots of questions” including if he was going to hurt them or their bus driver.
Lott said it was that questioning that “frustrated” Collazo before he let the children and driver off. He then drove himself a short distance, abandoned the bus, and left the rifle on board before he was captured without incident, according to the sheriff.
All in all, it was a fairly short ride. The total time Collazo was on the bus with the kids and driver was six minutes, Lott said.
“It was six minutes of a bad guy on a bus with a gun who was very desperate,” the sheriff said.
The children and bus driver were not harmed in any way, but were a little shaken up, according to authorities.
Collazo, who is facing charges of kidnap and armed robbery, was believed to have suffered from anxiety from separation of his family, according to Fort Jackson officials.
The base apologized for the ordeal as well.
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