Police seek gunman who aimed at bus

Clayton County police are looking for a gunman who witnesses reported as having aimed a rifle at a school bus, and carried a notebook full of school bus numbers.

No shots were reported. Police recovered the rifle and the notebook, according to a Clayton County Schools spokesman.

Squad cars from both Clayton County Police and the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office will now accompany school buses on Clayton’s south side through the end of the week, or until the man reported to have aimed the gun is captured, said David Waller, speaking Tuesday for the Clayton County School System. Outdoor activities like recess and field trips will also be moved inside, Waller said. The school year ends on Friday.

“It’s obviously a terrible thing to happen, but the timing could have been worse,” Waller said.

The police escorts are in response to a 911 call by a Hampton man who says he saw another man crouching in a back yard and aiming what appeared to be a gun at a school bus off Paladin Drive at about 7 a.m. Monday. When the witness yelled at the man, he dropped the gun and ran, according to Clayton County police reports. A rifle was recovered, according to the report.

Douglas Hendrix, chief human resources officer for Clayton County Schools, later said another witness pursued the man but stopped when the man fired a second gun at him.

The suspect, described only as a black male, is still at-large.

Waller said that parents were notified by letter and automated phone calls Tuesday because school officials weren’t told by Clayton County Police what had happened until Monday afternoon. “The people on the bus, the bus driver, were oblivious about what had happened,” Waller said.

The bus apparently targeted serves Kemp Elementary, Kemp Primary and Lovejoy High School. Squad cars will escort that bus as well as buses for Eddie White Academy, Hawthorne Elementary and Lovejoy Middle School.

The area is also being patrolled by members of the Clayton County Police SMASH unit and officers from nearby South Precinct, according to Clayton County Police spokesman Phong Nguyen. SMASH stands for Strategic Methods Against Street Harm and targets truants and street-level drug dealers.

“Obviously, we are taking every single precaution to make sure our children are safe,” Waller said. “That is our main concern.”

Nguyen asked that anyone with information on the incident call investigators at (770) 477-3648.