Jovan Collazo, 23, an intern at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, boarded the bus on an interstate highway Thursday before asking the driver to head to a nearby town.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott at a press conference told reporters that Mr. Collazo “told the bus driver he didn’t want to hurt him”, but that he was was traveling to a town with the kids on board.
Mr Collazo ordered the 18 children to get on the front of the bus, but the situation became “frustrating” for the alleged hijacker when they overloaded him with questions, according to Mr Lott.
“The children were asking questions. “Are you going to hurt us?” ‘Are you a soldier?’ “Are you a bus driver? So they were kids, they were kids, ”the sheriff said,“ I think that added to the frustration he was having. “
After six minutes, the military trainee let the driver and children get off the bus before driving a short distance along the highway, before stopping and leaving the vehicle.
Mr Lott said it was the first time a school bus had been hijacked by an armed suspect in his career, but luckily the driver had recently been trained to deal with such a situation.
“Bus drivers are unsung heroes, they are, and we’ve seen it today,” said Lott. “We saw a bus driver who cared about the kids on that bus.”
The sheriff also said of the children: “There were six minutes, six minutes, they were traumatized. Six full minutes that the bad guy was on the bus with a gun ”.
Pictures from the bus were also released, showing a man holding a gun and wearing a T-shirt with the word “ARMY” on the front.
The individual, believed to be Mr. Collazo, could be heard shouting instructions to the driver: “Close the door, drive, drive! “
The 23-year-old, who left Fort Jackson after just three weeks of training, was later arrested and charged with 19 counts of kidnapping, armed robbery and several other crimes, according to Mr Lott.