Shots fired at school bus

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 5, 2004

Staff report

A busload of Kings Fork Middle School students and a driver escaped harm Thursday after shots were fired into the vehicle.

Police responded to the intersection of Cedar Street and Johnson Avenue around 7:15 a.m. As children loaded the bus headed for the school, the shot shattered the glass in the door, according to police and school reports.

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Bus driver Regina Hall identified two suspects, who were apprehended after a short foot chase. Police later learned that one of the suspects was actually responsible.

Police charged the 15-year-old student, whose name was not released due to his age, with attempted malicious wounding, shooting at an occupied vehicle, destruction of property and shooting within 100 yards of a roadway, said Sgt. Michael McKenzie, spokesman for the Suffolk Police Department. The juvenile was already suspended from school and attending the nighttime alternative program.

Now, however, said school spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw, the juvenile faces a full out-of-school 180-day expulsion &uot;because this was an opportunity for a second chance.&uot;

Letters from the school were sent home with students on Thursday explaining the incident.

Immediately upon arrival at school Thursday morning, the students were taken into the cafeteria where staff members were available &uot;if anyone wanted to talk. All of them went on to class. We told them a letter would go out,&uot; said King’s Fork Middle School principal Talmadge Darden.

In the letter, Darden applauded the efforts of the bus driver, noting her &uot;quick action and calmness in notifying dispatch to call police. She was able to provide the police with a good description of the suspects, and kept approximately 40 students on the bus calm throughout the situation.&uot;

Additionally, a crisis intervention team was set up in the event students required counseling. None of the affected students sought out the team’s services Thursday, Darden said.

Some parents believe the school officials should have called the parents to those children riding the bus.

&uot;The school was just too relaxed in how it handled this,&uot; said Gina Gay, who picked up her 12-year-old daughter after she called home around 9:30 a.m. &uot;Anything could have happened out there, …my first thoughts were Columbine.

&uot;My husband and I definitely have concerns with the way parents were notified,&uot; she continued. &uot;I would have been furious if I found out about this from a letter once she got home from school.&uot;

Cedar Street resident Rosalyn Wallace said her 11-year-daughter will no longer ride the school bus in the mornings.

&uot;When I saw the window of that bus, it scared me to death,&uot; said Wallace. &uot;I’m not comfortable with her getting on that bus before it goes to the other end of the Cedar Street.

&uot;From now on, my husband and I will be taking her from her to school.&uot;