Driver killed after taking school bus on chase

May 30, 2009 2:16:34 PM PDT
The driver of an empty school bus was killed Friday after he led police on a chase through the south suburbs. Investigators say the bus driver was shot and killed after he aimed the speeding bus at police trying to stop him.The chase began in South Holland, Ill. after the driver took a bus from a bus yard and continued through Riverdale and ended with gunfire in Glenwood.

ABC7 Chicago is told the bus driver, identified as 35-year-old Ronald Newsome, had been employed with the First Student Transportation Bus Company since March and had passed a thorough background check. Police also say do not believe he had a criminal background.

It was unclear Friday evening what prompted the driver to hijack the school bus. According to the Associated Press, officials at the bus company say the chase began at the bus company's South Holland facility when they told the man he wouldn't be allowed to drive Friday because of his "attitude."

According to a spokesman for the company, the driver, who was hired back in March, took the bus without authorization. He picked up one student and dropped that student off before the chase began.

No students were onboard during the chase, but there was a female bus monitor on the bus, whom the driver forced to go with him for the duration.

South Holland police say Newsom ignored repeated orders to surrender. Though he was not armed, he aimed the school bus at one of the police officers and accelerated. That is when police say they shot the man. He was killed.

"Any time you have a bus that's fleeing from police at 65 or so miles an hour with a deadly weapon, and any time you point that bus at an officer and drive it toward an officer or civilian, it's a deadly weapon. And the officers use appropriate force to terminate his actions," said South Holland Police Department Chief Warren Millsaps.

The chain of events that led to the shooting began at approximately 7:20 a.m. Friday when police got a call from the First Student Transportation Bus Company in South Holland.

"The company reported they had a driver acting erratically and threatening other employees of the company. When the employees tried to stop him from leaving the business in his bus, he tried to run them over," said Millsaps.

Riverdale police first located the bus. Unable to stop him, they gave chase south on State Street, entering South Holland, where additional squad cars joined in the seven-mile pursuit. The chase came to an end about 10 minutes later on Main Street in Glenwood.

"I was working, and I saw the bus come down with about 20 cars. And there were about five or six gunshots, and I came out, and they were shooting at the bus, and that was it," witness Darren Demario said.

"I saw the guy on the ground, on the grass, and a couple guys gave first aid," said witness Javier Solorio.

Fortunately, no one else was injured seriously, including the bus monitor onboard, although ABC7 is told she was very shaken up.

Also, Newsom hit six vehicles, three of them squad cars, during the chase through South Holland.

Although there were passengers in some of those vehicles, there have been no reports of anything other than minor injuries.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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