A Charlotte-Mecklenburg school bus driver apparently was the hero late Monday afternoon, talking a student into handing over a loaded gun and ending a hijacking attempt by the seventh-grader.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials say the boy, a student at Northeast Middle School, apparently carried two guns onto Bus 1341 and tried forcing the driver to take him to another location.
CMS police Deputy Chief Randy Hagler told reporters he assumed the student had the guns at school earlier in the day.
The teen, whose name has not been released, was charged with eight counts of kidnapping and two counts of bringing a firearm onto school property. He is jailed at a juvenile detention center. He also faces expulsion from CMS.
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According to two broadcast reports, other students said the boy waved a gun in the air during the incident and talked about shooting government officials.
CMS said that after the student walked to the front of the bus with the gun and tried forcing the driver to change the route, the driver talked the youth into turning over the gun. After the boy handed over the firearm, the driver left the student off the bus on Robinson Church Road in northeast Charlotte. The bus driver then drove about a mile away, to Harrisburg and Reedy Creek roads, and called police.
CMS East Area Superintendent Joel Ritchie said the driver deserves credit.
"The driver did a wonderful job making sure the children were as safe as they could be with a weapon on the bus," Ritchie told WCNC-TV, the Observer's news partner. He said the driver, whose name has not been released, showed "good thinking" in what was a crisis situation.
But after the driver left the student off the bus, there was one more surprise. Another student approached the driver and handed over a gun. He told the driver the boy with the gun had handed him a firearm, asking him to help. The second student said he took the firearm out of fear and gave it to the driver as soon as he could.
One student on the bus, Madeleine Hawk, told NewsChannel 36 about the moments before the student was left off the bus. She said the boy walked toward the back of the bus, a gun in his hand.
"We thought it was fake for a minute, because we didn't think he'd actually do anything like that," she told WCNC. "He seemed upset at the moment, but serious."
Police found the boy a short time after he was let off the bus and arrested him.
Northeast Middle School plans to have extra counselors at school today and plans to beef up security on the bus. Michael Lane Price, the school's principal, sent out a Connect-Ed message to students and staff Monday night.