RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — A week after deputies say a Fort Jackson trainee hijacked a school bus in Columbia, the father of two of the children on the bus is demanding answers and accountability.
His lawyers held a news conference Thursday morning.
"Last week a bus was hijacked with both of my daughters in there," Josh Flores said.
Josh Flores is the father of two girls, ages 6 and 11, who were on the bus when it was hijacked. They were among 18 students on the school bus heading to Forest Lake Elementary in Richland School District Two on May 6 when deputies said a trainee from Fort Jackson got on board with a rifle.
"We asked the girls what happened, the girls said after I dropped them off at the bus stop at the very next bus stop that there was a guy in a military outfit, they referred to him as the solider, and she said the solider got on the bus, held a gun to the driver, and said drive to the next town over," Flores said.
Although the incident ended peacefully, and it was later revealed that the gun had no ammunition, Flores said both his daughters are still scared.
"How does this happen, just so many questions I have unresolved," Flores said. "At this point my daughters are doing better, they have not returned to school.”
Flores held a press conference with his attorneys on Thursday, but they said they haven’t filed a lawsuit in the case.
News 19 reached out to Richland School District Two they sent the following statement:
"On May 6, 2021, an emergency incident occurred on a school bus near Eagle Park Road and Percival Road. The school bus was transporting elementary students to Forest Lake Elementary when an unauthorized individual with a weapon got on the bus.
All of the students and the bus driver Kenneth Corbin were able to get off the bus safely a short time later. Mr. Corbin’s calm demeanor helped de-escalate a dangerous situation and exemplified the training he received through a Safe Pupil Training course.
We continue to offer social and emotional counseling resources to assist students and employees with the healing process as they are dealing with a traumatic event.
Immediately after the incident we began reviewing district practices and policies surrounding transportation safety. That process continues. We stand ready to engage in constructive and transparent dialogue about these processes as they relate to this incident.
We appreciate the fast response and the cooperation we received from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and the City of Columbia Police Department. It’s unfortunate that school districts have to prepare for situations like the one on May 6, but the practices and training we have in place for emergency situations proved to be immensely beneficial."
Fort Jackson announced changes to some training due to the incident. Their weapons immersion training is now on pause and Fort Jackson Commander, Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle, Jr. sent the following statement:
"We truly regret this incident and the effect it is having on our community. I have spoken with Dr. Davis, to express my desire to meet with the parents of the children so I can personally share my concerns for them. I want to answer their questions and let them know we are taking actions to prevent this from happening again."