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Fort Jackson Army trainee armed with a rifle hijacks elementary school bus – but orders 18 kids off

Moment ‘homesick’ Fort Jackson Army trainee armed with a rifle hijacks elementary school bus before kicking off 18 schoolkids when they ‘started asking lots of questions’

  • An Army trainee escaped from Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and hijacked a bus
  • Jovan Collazo, 23, from New Jersey was armed with an unloaded M4 rifle
  • In his third week of training, he jumped a barbed wire fence to flee the base 
  • He hijacked a school bus heading to Forest Lake Elementary School
  • The 18 children on board began asking questions and Collazo ‘got frustrated’
  • He let them off after a mile, struggled to drive the bus, then abandoned it
  • Collazo left his rifle in the bus, ran away and was arrested nearby
  • Collazo is charged with 19 counts of kidnapping, carjacking and armed robbery 

A 23-year-old Army trainee in South Carolina escaped from his base and hijacked a school bus to try and get home to New Jersey, but let the 18 children on board off after they asked too many questions and he became ‘frustrated’.

Jovan Collazo was armed with an M4 rifle, which was not loaded.

Having ordered the children and driver off, he tried to drive the empty bus, but struggled, and gave up.

He ditched the rifle in the bus, and began walking, but was arrested shortly after.

‘This incident could have ended very tragically,’ said Baron Davis, the superintendent of Richland School District Two. 

‘I’ve never been as sacred in my life upon receiving that call.’ 

The children and driver are all unharmed. 

A trainee at Fort Jackson in South Carolina hijacked the bus (above) on Thursday morning

Baron Davis, the superintendent of the school district, said a tragedy had been averted

Baron Davis, the superintendent of the school district, said a tragedy had been averted

The saga began at around 7am on Thursday, when motorists reported an armed man in his physical training clothes trying to flag down cars along Interstate 77.

They refused to stop, so, coming upon a bus stop, Collazo took over the bus as the children were boarding, on their way to Forest Lake Elementary School in Columbia.

Collazo then demanded to be taken to the next town. 

‘I’ll give the bus driver credit, he kept his cool,’ said Leon Lott, sheriff of Richland County.

‘You can just imagine they were scared to death.’

Leon Lott, sheriff of Richland County, praised the bus driver for keeping his cool

Leon Lott, sheriff of Richland County, praised the bus driver for keeping his cool

The bus was en route to the Forest Lake Elementary School in Columbia, South Carolina

The bus was en route to the Forest Lake Elementary School in Columbia, South Carolina

Yet after about a mile, the youngsters on board began asking the 23-year-old questions ‘where they were going,’ Lott said. 

‘The kids started asking lots of questions, like if they were going to hurt him.

‘The suspect got a little frustrated, and got the kids off.

‘The suspect then drove the bus a couple of miles, then abandoned the bus. He went through neighborhoods trying to get rides, trying to get clothes, and deputies spotted him and he was arrested without incident.’ 

Collazo escaped on Thursday morning from Fort Jackson, in his third week of training

Collazo escaped on Thursday morning from Fort Jackson, in his third week of training

Fort Jackson commanders have apologized for the incident. 

‘This was a failure in our accountability procedures that we truly regret and are apologetic to our community,’ they said in a statement. 

‘We are thankful for the fast actions of Richland County Sheriffs’ Department and the local community to assist in the apprehension of the individual.’

He has been charged with 19 counts of kidnapping, and single counts of armed robbery with a deadly weapon, carjacking without great bodily harm, pointing and presenting firearms at a person, carrying weapons on school property and possession of weapon during a violent crime.

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