Someone shot a projectile through the Lakeside High School football team’s school bus on the way home to Plummer, Idaho, from a game Friday night, missing students but leaving at least one cut by shards of glass.
When coach Chris Dohrman first heard the bang, he thought something had struck the bus. Then he turned around and saw shattered glass.
“There’s no way a rock would go through one side and out the other,” Dohrman said. “I don’t know who would do that. The people in Clark Fork are good people. I think this was an individual who’s pretty crazy. Anybody who’s going to shoot at a bus full of kids is not right.”
Lakeside defeated Clark Fork 42-28 Friday night and headed home around 9:30 p.m., Plummer-Worley School District Superintendent Russ Mitchell said.
“Nothing at the game that would indicate there was any kind of problem,” Mitchell said. “Seemed to be a normal football game.”
While westbound on U.S. Highway 2 after driving only about a half-mile from Clark Fork High School, bus riders – 15 football players, their coach and the bus driver – heard a loud noise before two windows broke, Mitchell said.
The possible bullet shot through a window on the left side of the bus and exited through a window on the other side, Dohrman said. One student was sitting back in his seat, and the projectile missed him by about 6 inches, Dohrman said.
“So, extremely close,” Dohrman said.
The bus driver drove a little farther down the road to safety and stopped, Mitchell said. While the projectile didn’t hit any of the bus’s occupants, glass shards cut at least one student and adults called medics “out of an abundance of caution,” Mitchell said.
Lakeside High School is on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation, and 60% of its about 120 students are Native American. Clark Fork High School is more than 90% white, with 128 students.
“It might have been a race thing, or might have just been a sore loser,” Orion Taylor, one of the students on the bus Friday night, told Idaho Education News.
Mitchell said speculation about the incident being a racist act popped up on Facebook early in the night.
“With some of the craziness going on in this world, everybody’s reflecting on this a little bit differently, and I can see why people are unsettled about that,” Mitchell said.
Whatever the intention, Lakeside students have been through enough this year, athletic director Jerel Hight said. Recently, they lost a classmate to suicide.
“I was a Lakeside graduate myself, and it pains me to see our students having to go through trial after trial,” Hight said. “But our students are strong. They’ve overcome and persevered and they will in this instance as well.”
Taylor said he initially thought the object might have been a rock, but then students found a bag of equipment had a warm scuff mark on it, as if it had been grazed by a bullet.
Taylor said he didn’t think he’d been targeted, but he would’ve been hit if he’d been sitting up straighter in his seat.
Law enforcement can’t confirm yet whether the projectile was a bullet or how many were shot into the bus, Capt. Tim Hemphill at the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office said. Deputies did not detain any anyone in connection with the shooting as of Friday night, he said, but they will review footage from several cameras along the bus’s short route.
Several agencies, including the FBI, are “rigorously” investigating, Mitchell said.
“What’s most important is that the youth have role models that can demonstrate what you do in an uncertain world,” Mitchell said.
In a statement Saturday, Mitchell wrote that it’s easy to be angry, but that adults have an opportunity to show kids how to react in “unthinkable situations and in what sometimes seems to be an upside-down world.”
For Dohrman, it’s still setting in. He said he and the students were in shock at “what took place and what could’ve.”
“Cherish your kids and just be thankful,” Dohrman said.
“We need to make sure we’re loving each other and not producing hate that causes incidents like this.”
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