A California man was arrested Monday evening for allegedly trying to steal a bus full of elementary school children heading home from a field trip.
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, 41 students from Reagan Elementary School were returning from a science camp in Oakhurst and stopped at a gas station in Fresno for a bathroom break. Police said it was then Christopher Martinez, 47, hopped aboard the bus and yelled at the driver that he needed “to go to the mission…Jesus is coming!”
Fresno police spokesman Mark Hudson claimed Martinez said, “I’m taking over the bus. Get out of your seat. I need to take the bus to San Gabriel Mission.”
Hudson went on to tell SFGate that, throughout the ordeal, Martinez repeated a variation of, “I need to go to the mission, I need to take the bus. I’m taking the kids to see Jesus.”
Amid the chaos, Martinez allegedly grabbed the female bus driver by her collar and tried to yank her out her seat. However, the driver had taken the keys from the ignition and hid them in her bra, according to the news outlet.
Amid the chaos, a teacher had returned from taking some students to the bathroom, leading them to join the driver in demanding that Martinez exit the bus. At one point, Martinez had walked to the back of the packed bus and returned to the front, though Hudson told The Union-Tribune that he didn’t touch any of the children.
The newspaper reported that a gas station clerk calmly asked Martinez to leave the bus, to which he obliged. He reportedly stayed at the scene and police took him into custody.
Police described Martinez’s behavior as erratic and suggested he may suffer from mental illness.
Martinez was charged attempted kidnapping and attempted carjacking. He’s being held on a $27,000 bond.
Southwestern Transportation Agency director Sandra Hoevertz declined to speak on the matter, citing an ongoing investigation. However, she did tell the Fresno Bee, “We’re very proud of our drivers.”
[Featured image: Christopher Martinez/Fresno Police Department]