Police investigating road rage incident with school bus

September 17, 2013

A road rage confrontation between a motorist with a handgun on his hip and a school bus carrying Washington students startled both the kids and their guardians Tuesday morning.

Luana Gaudi, who was still at the 7th Ward playground after dropping her three young grandchildren off, said the school bus had just picked up the students when another vehicle came up Donnan Avenue and the two vehicles were facing each other with no room to maneuver.

The GG&C school bus couldn’t back up into the intersection, Gaudi said, so its driver motioned to the other motorist to move out of the way. That exchange apparently enraged the driver, whose car had a U.S. government license plate, and he stepped out of the vehicle shouting obscenities, witnesses said.

The man, who Gaudi said was white and had grey hair, walked over to the bus and began pounding on the door. That’s when the people waiting at the stop noticed he had a gun in a holster.

“He was belligerent and just hollering at us,” Gaudi said. “It happened so fast that we couldn’t get ourselves composed. It was just appalling. Once we mentioned he had a gun, his attitude changed. But it didn’t stop him from being rude.”

Edwin Neff, who was dropping off his granddaughter at the stop, said the bus was filled with students from kindergarten to third grade. He and others there were nervous as the confrontation escalated when the man shouted at them and the bus driver.

“As a grandparent, seeing someone beating on the side of a bus door with a gun on his hip is ridiculous,” Neff said. “With all of the school shootings, to see someone beating on a bus with a weapon is scary.”

The man backed away before getting in his car and leaving. Washington police are investigating the incident and did not return a phone message seeking comment on the situation.

GG&C Controller Pam Honaker said the school bus driver is a veteran with the company and handled the situation correctly. She said their drivers are instructed to “sit tight” and motion for the other vehicle to move since it’s too dangerous for a school bus to maneuver in tight spaces.

“I think our driver handled it appropriately,” Honaker said. “It’s just unfortunate the incident happened and the driver of the vehicle didn’t respect the fact it was a school bus with school children on board.”

The school bus driver spoke to city police and gave them a description of the man and his car. Witnesses said they hoped a surveillance camera near the playground would help identify the driver of the car.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and Patch.com. He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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