Man tries to steal school bus; gun found in backpack
By KENNETH DEAN
AND EMILY GUEVARA
Multiple incidents at East Texas schools kept law enforcement busy Tuesday, including the discovery of a gun in a kindergartener's backpack in Longview and a man's alleged attempt to drive away with a school bus full of students in Palestine.
Palestine police arrested 30-year-old Cedric Brenard Lewis and charged him with aggravated kidnapping after officials said he climbed aboard a school bus with children on board and attempted to drive away.
Suzanne Iven, Palestine ISD's assistant superintendent, said the incident happened at the Timbercrest Apartments, 1020 Sugar Lane, shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Ms. Iven said at the bus stop at the complex, two students were arguing so the first-year bus driver took them to different areas of the bus to separate them.
"As he was doing this, he heard kids screaming and turned to see a man on the bus attempting to drive away," she said.
Ms. Iven said the man was pushing on the accelerator, but the bus was in park and did not move.
"The bus driver ran up and grabbed the man around the neck and began trying to pull him out of the seat," she said. "Several onlookers were watching, and they ran to help, and they finally got him off the bus, and someone sat on him until police arrived."
Ms. Iven said the apartment management already had called police on the Lewis because he was causing problems at the complex and would not leave.
"We are just thankful no one was hurt," she said. "I think our driver was obviously thinking of the safety of the children, and he took the appropriate actions. We also are thankful for the people that got on the bus and got involved to help subdue the man."
Just a few miles away, Anderson County Sheriff's deputies and Palestine police responded to yet another incident that caused the Westwood and Palestine school districts to go on lockdown.
Anderson County Sheriff Greg Taylor said a dog bite victim ran to the Westwood Elementary School after he was shot at a few blocks away.
"What we have here is a home where criminal activity is suspected," he said. "Two individuals got into it, and one fired a shot at another but did not hit them. The victim was then bitten by a pit bull in the yard that almost bit my deputies on our arrival."
Taylor said the suspected shooter left the area in a vehicle and never went to any school, but the dog bite victim ran from the area and wound up at the school.
"The shooting has nothing to do with the school, but Westwood Independent School District did in fact do what they should have done and locked down the schools..." he said.
However, Taylor reiterated that at no time was there a shooter on any campus.
Westwood Superintendent Ed Lyman said after the school was released from lockdown "quite a few parents" picked up their children.
"In light of what happened last week (in Newtown, Conn.) everyone is a bit edgy, so if parents wanted to pick up their children they could. I am concerned that parents will keep their children out for the rest of the week even though we don't go on break until Friday," he said.
In Longview, a gun in a kindergarten student's backpack found as students were releasing from school for the winter break caused police to investigate.
Police and school personnel believe the South Ward Elementary School student brought the weapon to school to show off to his friends, according to a news release. He had no malicious intent to the district's knowledge.
The gun was not discharged, and there were no injuries. A district spokesman could not say whether the gun was loaded. A Longview Police Department spokeswoman said an open records request would have to be submitted for that information.
The campus was not placed on "lockdown," because the gun was confiscated immediately, and the students already had been dismissed, according to the news release.
Longview police and Longview ISD officials were investigating the incident and will take appropriate action once the investigation is complete, according to the news release. All South Ward parents were notified about the incident.