Near MILAN, Italy — A student here was able to hide and call authorities when his school bus was hijacked and set on fire on Wednesday, police said.
The bus driver, identified by police as Ousseynou Sy, 47, was supposed to take students, ranging in age from 11 to 13, back to their school in Crema, after they completed a gym session. Instead, he headed toward the Linate airport in Milan, Italian police spokesman Marco Palmieri told CNN. Fifty-one students and their chaperones were aboard the bus, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Commander Luca De Marchis told Sky TG24 that Sy said to passengers that "no one would survive today," according to the Los Angeles Times.
Palmieri also told CNN that Sy doused the bus in gasoline, threatened to blow it up, and asked for all the students’ cell phones. He also made teachers on the bus tie up some students with cable ties and had a knife, authorities told the news source. One student told Sy he hadn’t brought his phone with him, and hid, according to CNN. That student called a parent, who alerted authorities. Additionally, an adult aboard the bus called an emergency operator, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Police rushed to the scene, and some negotiated with Sy while others smashed windows to get the passengers out of the bus, and that’s when Sy set the bus on fire, CNN reports. De Marchis said that some passengers were taken to the hospital mainly for cuts and scratches that resulted from evacuating the bus, according to the Los Angeles Times.
De Marchis told Sky TG24 that when Sy was apprehended, he said he was protesting migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, according to the Los Angeles Times. Sy faces charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, resisting arrest, and arson, CNN reports.
Sky TG24 said that Sy had worked for the bus company for 15 years without any employment-related issues, according to the Los Angeles Times. Police said that Sy had previously been convicted of sexual assault and driving while intoxicated, CNN reports.