HARRISBURG, Pa. — A school bus driver has been fired and charged with disorderly conduct for an incident involving a toy gun, authorities said.
School and police officials held a news conference over the incident, which happened Monday on a bus transporting technical high school students. The driver had a toy gun and, when a student asked about it, reportedly said that it was for the "bad kids."
CBS 21 reported that a police lieutenant said the bus driver was apparently joking around with the obviously fake gun. However, when word spread on the bus, it turned into something more serious.
School officials said in a statement that students contacted authorities with their cell phones.
"Susquehanna Township police and district personnel met the bus and removed the driver," school officials said. "An alternate driver completed the departure route."
Susan Kegerise, superintendent of Susquehanna Township School District, said in the news conference that the students "were calm. ... They absolutely alerted authorities right away — whether it was real or whether it was not. So I'm absolutely proud of them and think they conducted themselves in a very mature and responsive manner."
In a different assessment, a student who was riding the bus told ABC 27 that "kids were screaming, texting, calling their parents, calling the police."
School officials said that the driver has been terminated by Rohrer Bus Co.
The Patriot News interviewed the driver, Ronald W. Jones, who said that he regularly played games — Spider-Man and Iron Man, for example — with his fellow bus drivers' preschoolers who rode the buses with them, which is why he had brought the toy gun. He admitted that he shouldn't have brought it on the bus, but he said that he was shocked and humiliated by the response, which included police frisking him.
Jones, a 73-year-old great-grandfather, told The Patriot News that the student who asked about the toy gun and to whom he made the joke was someone he had previously written up for misbehavior. "If she thought that gun was real," he told the news source, "she wouldn’t have gotten on the bus."