Local News

Group tries to commandeer Harnett school bus

Posted October 7, 2010

— Five people have been charged with a variety of offenses after a group tried to commandeer a Harnett County school bus on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said Thursday.

Twenty-five Triton High School students were aboard the bus, and local authorities credited the quick thinking by bus driver Sha-Wana Cameron for ensuring that no one was injured.

The incident began when Cameron made a routine stop at the intersection of Ebenezer Church Road and Forever Lane outside Coats at about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, Harnett County Sheriff Larry Rollins said.

A fight broke out between two students, Pedro Gonzales and Jose Gonzales, and two men left a Chevrolet Aveo parked nearby and tried to board the bus, Rollins said. The Gonzaleses aren't related.

Cameron slammed the door on the men to prevent them from boarding and drove off. As she was pulling away from the curb, Pedro Gonzales opened the emergency exit at the back of the bus and jumped out, Rollins said.

“The bus driver was upset. The children were upset. The bus driver did an outstanding job keeping those people off the bus,” Coats Police Chief Eddie Jaggers said.

The two men ran back to the Aveo and, together with two other men, followed the bus toward Coats, Rollins said.

"They, at one time, pulled in front of her trying to stop her, and she (went) around them," the sheriff said. "During the course of it, she has then got in her mind, 'Well, I've got to get assistance.' So, she calls with her cell phone to our 911 center."

School bus generic School bus driver thwarts men's attempts to board

Patricia Harmon-Lewis, a spokeswoman for Harnett County Schools, said the men brandished a metal pipe during the chase, which went on for about 2 miles before the Aveo turned down a side road outside the Coats town limits. Cameron then drove the bus to the police station.

"(Some witnesses gave us) statements that it was a pipe. Some said it was a bat. Some said it was a shotgun," Rollins said.

A Harnett County deputy and Coats police officer found an Aveo on Abattoir Road that matched the description of the one chasing the bus and arrested four men.

Roger Rodrigues, 20, of 158 Sweet Jenny Lane in Lillington, Ismael Gonzales, 21, of 409 Forever Lane, Richard Gonzales, 18, of 240 Forever Lane, and Edgar Ochoa, 17, of 358 Forever Lane, all of Coats, were each charged with attempted kidnapping, armed to the terror of the people, impeding a school bus and pattern of gang activity.

They were being held Thursday in the Harnett County jail under $200,000 bonds.

Deputies found a 12-gauge shotgun in the car, but it was unclear if it was ever brandished during the incident, Rollins said.

Ismael and Richard Gonzales are the older brothers of Pedro Gonzales, investigators said. Ochoa is a Triton High student, they said.

Jose Gonzales, 17, of 84-D Oak Dale Mobile Home Park in Coats, was charged with simple affray. He was being held under a $15,000 bond, and authorities said he likely will face other charges.

Deputies were searching Thursday for Pedro Gonzales, who is wanted on a charge of simple affray.

Rollins said at least two of the men in the car admitted to being members of a gang, and both he and Jaggers said the incident appears to be gang-related.

The men in the car were trying to retaliate against Jose Gonzales, who is a member of a rival gang, Jaggers said.

Rollins said the men apparently weren't aware that Pedro Gonzales had already jumped out of the back of the bus when they decided to pursue the bus.

"Had they been able to get on the bus, I'm sure it could have been a lot worse than what we have," Rollins said. "In talking with all the students, (Cameron) was very composed during the event and was always in control."


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  • 6079 SMITH W Oct 8, 2010

    Roger that, BHS67.....it seems to be all the rage to assume people who work with their hands are somehow intellectually inferior......somebody has to actually work and make things. I bet soyousay would be a real treat working in the AMG machine shop. Perhaps he would see things a bit differently if he had been out working instead of being a professional student... How very odd he supports the illegal "Immigrant" for working hard, but scorns us for doing the same thing......in our own country. ;( ?!

  • BeenHereSince67 Oct 8, 2010


    Sorry, but the classes are all full of Illegals being given free educations by some very misguided people.

    Probably people very much like you, who hate our American blue collar workers and would rather have a warm and fuzzy relationship with these gang members. It makes you "feel" good about yourself. I'm 61, have never, ever voted for a Republican in my entire voting career, but I sure will this time around. You're going to see some big, BIG changes in the way things get done after the 2012 election cycle. It will take that long for the Militant Moderates to get organized. but when we do, look out Far Left AND Far Right nutcases!

  • soyousay Oct 8, 2010

    6..OK then, what if we don't belong to the Tea Party, what next

    you probably should consider getting out more, attend class- I am sure it will come to you

  • PickAnotherID Oct 8, 2010

    Kids on the bus saw a "pipe" being brandished and the police found a shotgun in the car. I can't believe the dots aren't being connected and more severe charges being brought. Scary to think what might have happened if the person in the car with the "pipe" thought he had a clear shot at the fellow on the bus.

  • 6079 SMITH W Oct 8, 2010

    .....and nothing in the article ever does. It doesn't pass the PC litmus test. A real shame, too. It is the rule rather than the exception here in Harnett county. I haven't noticed any migration, either. ;)

  • 6079 SMITH W Oct 8, 2010

    OK then, what if we don't belong to the Tea Party, what next? Do we maintain a policy of allowing cheap third-world labor to siphon off that already barely-adequate income for struggling American citizens by driving labor cost down? Registered democrat, by the way. The side that wants their vote. The guys who use the majority of said cheap labor and just blew another 8 years doing absolutely nothing about the problem are down the hall, first door on the right. ;)

  • waltbuchanan Oct 8, 2010

    Would you Tea Party folks get off the illegal immigrant bandwagon. Nothing in the article said they were illegals.

  • 6079 SMITH W Oct 8, 2010

    BeenHereSince67......Interesting point you bring up. Most of the people who are labeled bigots or racist (while we will agree that there are some of those in the mix) are simply the working class dogs like us who are aghast at the double standard that exists in this country concerning illegal immigration. The very same people who defend these "Undocumented Migrants" right to work and better themselves are also the ones who attack the working poor who happen to have lived here their whole lives.........and have seen the result of unchecked illegal immigration. They exalt the "Undocumented Migrant" as paragons of virtue and for strong work ethics for doing all those jobs we won't do........in the same breath that holds the locals in contempt for protesting against those who have illegally entered their country, depriving them of the means to make a living wage. This logic must surely have been conceived by "HYPOCRATES"....that lesser-known ancient Greek philosopher.

  • YourMom Oct 8, 2010

    Who's writing these headlines anyway? "Commandeer"? Sounds like all they wanted to do was get ahold of the other Gonzales to beat him to a pulp. I'm sure they didn't care if other children got hurt in the process either. I'm going with Southern Bell on this one: 'HEADLINE SHOULD HAVE READ!!!!!!!!! GANG MEMBERS TRY TO KILL/ENDANGER YOUR CHILDREN ON SCHOOL BUS.'
    What IS their immigration status WRAL? We're all very curious. I'm sure the parents of the children that were on that bus are as well.

  • airengr Oct 8, 2010

    The headline IS quite misleading. At the very least, it could have said something like: "Gang Members Arrested over Attempted School Bus Hijacking." Much more in line with the story.