Eight high-school students were arrested Wednesday on charges that they threw food, rocks and bottles from a school bus at passing cars on James Island.
The bombardment that damaged at least one pickup truck unfolded May 8 as the bus transported the students from the Septima P. Clark Academy, an alternative-education school, home to North Charleston.
The adult suspects ranged from 17 to 19 years old. Each faces a charge of interference with a school bus driver, a misdemeanor that's similar to disorderly conduct. Four also were cited for littering, and three face a misdemeanor count of malicious injury to real property.
Jason Sakran, a spokesman for the Charleston County School District, said three students of the students were suspended for four days and banned from riding the bus for the rest of the year. Five other students were suspended for two to three days, he said.
An incident report from the Charleston County Sheriff's Office describes how the students tried to conceal their volley of coleslaw and rocks from cameras on the Durham School Services bus and from the authorities who later responded.
Officers from the Charleston Police Department and deputies showed up at the James Island Expressway near Folly Road to the sight of a Ford F-250 with food "splashed across the grill, hood and windshield," the sheriff's report stated.
The 50-year-old Hanahan man driving the truck, which was hauling a boat, was not hurt, but he said about $950 in damage was done to his Ford.
Investigators got a more complete account of what happened when they watched the video the next day.
It showed a 16-year-old girl boarding the bus at the school at 929 N. Grimball Road with a bag full of food and a 17-year-old woman with a pizza box, which was later determined to be full of rocks.
Students were later heard cursing and calling the 78-year-old bus driver "weak," the report stated. The 16-year-old girl said she was going to "chop some cars," according to the report, but told the others not to throw anything until the bus reached Interstate 26.
Several of the students tried to block the three onboard security cameras from capturing what they were about to do, the report stated. One of them tried using Wite-Out correction fluid to cover one of the lenses.
The 16-year-old later decided that she didn't care about waiting until the interstate, the report stated, and said, "We might as well chop cars now."
At several points, the report alleged, the students threw things from the bus. They once targeted a car at a red light, it stated. They talked about poking a hole in a bag and squirting its contents onto cars, the video showed.
But when a car started to pull over, the report stated, the students cursed, waved their arms and yelled for the bus driver to continue on the James Island connector.
"Go! Go!" someone yelled, according to the report. "Drive the (expletive) bus."
One of the 17-year-olds was then seen throwing "a large object" from a window, and an 18-year-old man hurled a rock from the pizza box, the report stated.
But one student warned the others that they could kill someone by throwing the rocks.
As the pickup driver signaled the bus driver to pull over, the students again urged the driver to keep going.
One of them tried to grab a radio microphone from the driver, Andrew Warren of North Charleston, as he called for help.
That's when the 16-year-old who had brought the food onboard expressed her frustration and tossed out a container of coleslaw, the report stated. It splattered onto the Hanahan man's Ford, and the students screamed. Another hit the truck with a rock, the report stated, as the man drove eastward on the connector.
The students then started "getting rid of the evidence" by dumping it from the windows, the report added.
Deputies later took over the investigation from Charleston police officers, who initially responded to the call. The Ford driver told the investigators Monday that he wanted to press charges, and the students were jailed two days later.
The eight adult students remained behind bars early Thursday morning.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
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