In his first year as a school bus driver, Evans Okoduwa talked an armed student into handing over his gun.
Calm actions disarm student
Normally, the middle school student was ready to get up and off the bus when his stop approached. But this time, something was different.
School bus driver Evans Okoduwa says that he became alarmed when the student started walking to the back of the bus.
“Where are you going?” Okoduwa called, but he got no response.
The student talked to another passenger and then turned backed toward the front of the bus.
“He walked up to me with an angry look on his face,” recalls Okoduwa, who drives for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. “I heard another student say he had a gun, and I thought his next move was to shoot the bus driver.”
But the student stood silently by Okoduwa, who looked at him in the mirror and asked if he was getting off at that stop. The student said he wasn’t getting off, and he told Okoduwa to keep driving.
“At this point, he had the gun hiding behind my seat, but it wasn’t pointing at me,” Okoduwa says.
After talking a scared passenger out of jumping out of a window, Okoduwa’s attention turned toward taking the gun from the armed student. Okoduwa began talking reassuringly and slowly put his hand on that of the student, who said nothing.
“I asked him a few questions to show concern and care for him, to let him know that ... I was on his side,” Okoduwa recalls. “Eventually, I asked him if I could have the gun. He didn’t say anything, but he slowly released his grip.”
The first-year school bus driver took the gun, led the student off of the bus and left him with a man who had come over to check on the bus. Okoduwa then drove the rest of his passengers to safety.
Tim Woodle, Okoduwa’s supervisor, describes the bus driver’s actions as “very heroic. Not many people would have handled that situation like that — just staying calm and keeping everyone else calm.”
Okoduwa, a native of Nigeria, says his Christian faith carried him through the May 2011 incident. “I make it a habit to calm myself down by praying,” he says. “I did feel a positive premonition — a sense of a good outcome. That helped me become more relaxed.”