BR boy now in custody in school bus shooting

A student sleeping on a school bus Friday afternoon woke up to the sound of gunshots.

Outside, the girl’s classmate, a 12-year-old boy, had just fired three shots at the bus full of students from Kenilworth Science & Technology Charter School.

“Everybody was calling their parents,” said the witness, Shandrel Matthews, 12.

The students were kept at the scene for another hour and a half, while Baton Rouge police interviewed witnesses, and were allowed to leave about 5 p.m.

The shooting stemmed from a fight just before the boy got off the bus in the 1000 block of North 44th Street, Matthews and police said.

Within hours, police located the accused shooter and booked him into the East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Detention Center on six counts of attempted first-degree murder and counts of illegal use of a weapon, aggravated criminal damage to property and juvenile in possession of a handgun, said Cpl. Don Coppola Jr., a Baton Rouge police spokesman.

Police say the boy got into a fight with a classmate on the bus before it arrived at his home on North 44th Street. Once the bus stopped in front of his house, the boy ran inside, quickly armed himself with a handgun and came back outside to fire three shots, each striking the school bus, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a Baton Rouge police spokesman.

No one was injured in the shooting.

“We haven’t had action like this in a long time, thank God,” said Darlene Carter, 58, who lives a few doors from the 12-year-old boy and his family.

Carter said she was sitting in her front yard Friday evening as children just a street away played basketball.

“I heard the gunshots, but I didn’t know what happened until I saw the school bus on the corner,” Carter said.

Matthews, the student who was on the bus during the shooting, said the fight that students believe sparked the shooting stemmed from comments made by the accused shooter about the deceased father of an older student on the bus. At some point, the older student punched the accused shooter, Matthews said.

The bus was driven by a private school bus company, First Student Inc., and students on the bus at the time, numbering about 30, are all students at Kenilworth Science & Technology Charter School, said Mark Lambert, a spokesman for the school.

“We are grateful no one was hurt,” Lambert said.

An adult monitor on the school bus broke up the fight that supposedly sparked the shooting, Lambert said.

The school’s principal, Hasan Suzuk, went to the scene of the shooting to find out what happened. The bus resumed its route shortly after 5 p.m. and took the students still left to their homes, Lambert said, although some parents had come directly to the scene to pick up their children.

Lambert said the school had planned to send an informational email to parents Friday evening.

He said the school is working with law enforcement on the investigation. And beginning Monday, the school will have two Baton Rouge police officers posted at the school on a daily basis instead of one, Lambert said.

“We’re doing everything we can to help,” he said.

Advocate staff writer Charles Lussier contributed to this story.