A Charlotte, North Carolina school bus was caught in the middle of a shootout as an argument between two men at a nearby gas station erupted into a gun battle.
Charlotte Lab Schools, a private charter school serving approximately 500 kindergarten through sixth-grade students, confirmed that the school bus was stopped at a light Thursday morning when the altercation between the two men began at a gas station. Both men then pulled guns and began shooting at each other.
Dr. Mary Moss Brown, executive director, founder and head of the charter school, told parents in a statement that a stray bullet entered the bus through the driver’s side window. It passed behind the driver and neither the driver nor the students on board were injured. She said the driver, students and Charlotte Lab Schools were all “incredibly lucky.”
“While we are all incredibly shocked and saddened by today’s incident, I am reminded of the words of Mr. Rogers in response to tragic events: ‘Look for the helpers,’” she wrote. “Today there were many helpers. Our bus driver reacted quickly and appropriately and kept all students safe; she did everything right in a challenging moment.”
She also thanked Charlotte-Meckleburg police officers who responded to the scene for making the students on the bus feel safe and three trauma counselors from the city’s Child Development Community Policing program who met with the students once they arrived at school.
She added that the counselors are also providing follow-up care to the students’ families.
Moss Brown added that students riding the bus home Thursday afternoon participated in a group discussion on the incident, and students were given the option of not riding the bus. Additional student-teacher conversations were held Thursday morning in all homeroom assemblies, with similar discussions planned for Friday.
Moss Brown said students need to know that the shooting is not the fault of and is in no way connected to the school’s bus driver.
“Children benefit from honest and direct conversation about incidents like this and having the opportunity to share their feelings is important and necessary to reduce any potential post-traumatic stress,” she said. “Sadly, this incident is just one of many gun-related and senseless acts of violence that occur throughout our city and country on a daily basis and certainly raises our awareness of the need for real solutions that will keep all children safe.”