Cop shoots teen who crashed stolen school bus on Walt Whitman Bridge

Tim Jimenez
July 22, 2019 - 6:25 am
The school bus is on the far right lane of the Eastbound Walt Whitman. Police haven’t commented on a connection between the bus and the reports of shots fired overnight.

Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio

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UPDATED: 2:15 p.m.

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A 17-year-old boy suspected of stealing a $60,000 school bus was shot in a confrontation with Delaware River Port Authority officers on the Walt Whitman Bridge early Monday morning.

The teenager is in the hospital in stable condition.

Authorities say he stole the school bus in West Deptford just after 11:30 p.m. Sunday, leading police on a pursuit that ended on the bridge.

West Deptford Police Chief Sean McKenna said one of his officers saw a school bus driving erratically.

"Thought it was odd that a bus was out at this time of night. Made an erratic turn onto Mantua Grove Road. He pulled behind, noticed that it didn't have a license plate on," McKenna said.

He followed the bus onto I-295 and turned on his lights and siren, but the bus only sped up. At exit 25, the teen was driving so erratically that the officer cut off the pursuit and notified the New Jersey State Police and Delaware River Port Authority.

"We were notified that the DRPA confronted the individual and ended up stopping on the Walt Whitman Bridge," McKenna said. "And the suspect confronted the officers with a knife. And at that point, the officers fired and stopped the suspect."

In a statement released early Monday afternoon, the DRPA said its officers were faced with "an unfortunate situation" after someone crashed a stolen bus in the eastbound lanes of travel. 

The officers involved in the encounter were not injured. The Philadelphia Police Department is assisting in this investigation, and the DRPA is fully cooperating.

The resulting police investigation on the bridge threw a temporary monkey wrench in the works for morning commuters heading into New Jersey. Traffic was reduced to only the far left lane on a stretch of the eastbound side of the bridge as the police blocked all other lanes to gather evidence. The bus was towed around 8:30 a.m., and all lanes were opened thereafter. 

Holcomb Bus Services in Bellmawr, N.J., said it was in the process of buying the bus, which was stolen from the dealership.

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KYW Newsradio's Molly Daly contributed to this report. Stay with KYW Newsradio for more on this developing story.