A school bus driver and a gas station clerk are credited with helping stop a man from driving away in a school bus full of Kingsburg elementary students Monday evening in Fresno.
Christopher Martinez, 47, was booked into Fresno County Jail on attempted carjacking charges in the bizarre incident which unfolded at Jensen Avenue and Highway 99.
It was about 6:30 p.m. when the bus, carrying 41 students from Reagan Elementary School and returning from a science camp in Oakhurst, stopped in south Fresno so several students could use the restroom, police reported.
As the students’ teacher escorted the students, Martinez stepped onto the bus and said hee was driving to a mission in San Gabriel in Southern California, according to Lt. Mark Hudson.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
He said he needed “to go to the mission...Jesus is coming!” according to an incident report.
Hudson said Martinez grabbed the female driver by the collar to pull her from the driver’s seat, but the driver pulled the keys from the ignition. That set off an alarm on the bus as the driver shouted at him get off the bus, and that he wasn’t taking it anywhere.
Martinez walked to the back of the bus and back to the front during the incident, but did not touch any of the children as they sat in their seats, Hudson added. The bus driver was joined by the teacher and both continued to demand that Martinez get off the bus.
The gas station clerk then interceded, and in a calm voice asked Martinez to leave the bus, according to the police report. Martinez complied, and walked to the store as police arrived and took him into custody.
Martinez was being held on a $27,500 bond.
The identities of the two apparent heroes were not released. The clerk was not available. Officials at the Kingsburg Charter Elementary School District were also not available. Sandra Hoevertz, agency director for Southwestern Transportation Agency, deferred comment because the incident is under investigation. But she did say, “We’re very proud of our drivers.”