fort jackson

Image from Fort Jackson's Facebook page

Officials from Fort Jackson released a statement Thursday afternoon following an incident Thursday morning where an armed trainee from the base allegedly hijacked a school bus occupied by 18 children and the driver.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the bus eventually pulled over where the driver and children got out. According to Lott, the suspect continued to drive the bus a few more miles until he abandoned it, and continued on foot. His rifle was left on the bus, officials noted. He was arrested shortly after without incident.

Fort Jackson Commander Brigadier General Milford Beagle Jr. held a press conference along with a released statement from Ft. Jackson.

"This was a failure in our accountability procedures that we truly regret and are apologetic to our community. We are thankful for the fast actions of RCSD and the local community to assist in the apprehension of the individual," the statement read.

Beagle said he does not believe the trainee, who is 23-years-old and from New Jersey, had the intent of harming others. He also said the base-issued rifle the suspect had with him was not loaded, nor did he have any ammunition. Beagle said he believes it was the suspect's attempt to return home.

"There is nothing that leads us to believe through his counseling or anything in his screening records coming in, that this had anything to do with harming others, harming himself, or anything else that leads to any type of nefarious activity," said Beagle.

According to Beagle, the suspect was able to jump the fence line in a portion of the base that was not "particularly monitored" in order to leave. He said the suspect was known as a "quiet individual."

As of Thursday afternoon, the suspect was still in RCSD custody. Lott said he will be charged with multiple counts of kidnapping.

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