Who is Jovan Collazo? Armed Fort Jackson trainee, 23, hijacked school bus with 18 kids as he wanted to go home
He fled Fort Jackson after just three weeks of training as he reportedly wanted to go home and when he hijacked the bus, he asked the driver to take him to the next town
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA: An Army trainee in South Carolina was arrested after he allegedly hijacked a school bus packed with children. The suspect was identified as Jovan Collazo, 23, of New Jersey.
Officials stated that Collazo was armed, but no one was injured in the incident. He will face dozens of charges, including 19 counts of kidnapping for the 18 children and driver on board, according to Sheriff Leon Lott, of Richland County. Lott said it was "probably one of the scariest calls we can get in law enforcement".
Brigadier General Milford Beagle stated that Collazo jumped the fence at Fort Jackson in order to return home. Beagle said his weapon "did not have ammunition but those on the bus would not know that". "He got on bus and told the bus driver he didn't want to hurt him, but wanted him to take him to the next town," Lott said. The elementary school children on the bus were more than he could handle. "The kids started asking lots of questions to the suspect," Lott said. "The suspect got a little frustrated." Lott said Collazo let the children and the driver off the bus then continued to drive for a couple more miles. He eventually left the rifle on the bus and went through neighborhoods attempting to get rides and clothes, Lott said. "You can just imagine they were scared to death," Lott said, CBS affiliate WLTX reported. "I'll give the bus driver credit, he kept his cool. His main concern was the safety of the kids and he did his job."
Officials later released a footage that showed Collazo getting on the school bus, pointing a rifle at the driver and telling him to close the doors and drive, Richland County officials said during a press conference. Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott played the video during a news conference, which shows the suspect wearing an Army T-shirt and holding a rifle. “Drive!” and “Close the door!” the suspect says repeatedly to the bus driver, pointing a gun at him. The video also shows the bus driver leaning away from the rifle and complying, shutting the doors and driving the bus. Another video clip revealed that Collazo was driving the bus himself before he got off the bus after the children and the driver were permitted to leave.
Video released by the sheriff’s office shows the suspect, Jovan Collazo, getting on the bus, pointing a rifle at the driver, and telling the driver to close the doors and drive. @WCBD pic.twitter.com/1UX4oPHwUx— Chase Laudenslager (@News2Chase) May 6, 2021
“A Fort Jackson trainee dressed in PT clothes and armed with a Fort Jackson rifle hijacked a school bus with children onboard this morning. No children were harmed. Suspect has been detained. Fort Jackson leadership says they are aware and are working w/ law enforcement,” Chase Laudenslager of WCBD News wrote on Twitter.
During a press conference, Lott said that Collazo ran from the fort with his rifle and began trying to flag down vehicles near Interstate 77. Collazo then went to a bus stop at Eagle Park Road and Percival Road where he found this school bus stopping to pick up students. Eighteen students were on the bus, which was headed for Forest Lake Elementary in Richland School District Two. “You can just imagine they were scared to death,” Lott said. “I’ll give the bus driver credit, he kept his cool. His main concern was the safety of the kids and he did his job.”
Collazo is accused of pointing a rifle at the bus driver, but the gun was not loaded, Fort Jackson’s commander Brigadier General Milford “Beags” Beagle said during a news conference. “Based on everything we know… he’s been in training only for three weeks at this point, that he’s very quiet… from New Jersey, one relative that we knew of and so we assessed that he was just trying to make an attempt to go back home,” Beagle said.
Collazo was eventually spotted near I-77, where he was arrested. Lott said the entire incident lasted about an hour. Collazo would be charged with 19 counts of kidnapping, armed robbery, carjacking, pointing and presenting, use of a weapon during a violent crime and unlawful carrying a weapon on school property.