An Army trainee based out of Fort Jackson, S.C., left the installation early Thursday morning wearing a PT uniform and bearing a rifle, and hijacked a Richland Country school bus driving elementary-aged students, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. The suspect, officials said, is now in custody.
“Fort Jackson officials are aware of the incident involving a trainee this morning,” Leslie Sully, a Fort Jackson media relations officer, said in an email. “We are working closely with Richland County Sheriff Department to respond to this incident.”
The trainee has yet to be identified, however, he is in his third week of training, according to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
Lott in a press conference said the incident began around 7 a.m. when the trainee boarded the bus and requested to be taken to a town over.
According to Lott:
After failing to hitch a ride from any cars on Interstate 77, the trainee got on the bus at a stop near Percival Road picking up students who attend Forest Lake Elementary in Richland School District Two. The trainee told the driver he didn’t want to hurt anyone, but he wanted to be taken to the next town.
Soon, he became frustrated and let the children and bus driver out and drove away. A few miles later, he abandoned both the rifle and the bus and went off in search of clothes in a nearby neighborhood. Police found him and he was arrested without incident.
Lott added that the bus driver is to be credited with keeping the children protected and de-escalating the situation.
“We’re working with authorities at Fort Jackson now to determine some more about this individual,” Lott said. “[This was] a very scary situation that fortunately for everybody turned out well.”
The trainee currently faces multiple counts of kidnapping.
Neither the Richland County Sherriff’s Office or School District 2 immediately responded to requests for comment.
This is a developing story. Stay with Army Times for updates.
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