PASCO, Wash. (WNCN) – A 34-year-old man attacked and killed a bus driver who was about to drive 35 children home last week, police in Washington said.
The attack occurred near Longfellow Elementary School in Pasco, Washington, which is located in southeast Washington state.
The bus driver, 72-year-old Richard Lenhart, had just closed the bus doors after 35 students got on board.
A man approached the bus and Lenhard opened the door for him.
Pasco police said “opening the door to see what the man wanted would not normally be considered a risky action.”
Police said the man, identified as 34-year-old Joshua D. Davis, asked the driver if the bus went on Road 100.
Lenhart told Davis the bus did not stop on Road 100 and Davis began to exit the bus.
Police said at that point, Davis pulled out a knife and attacked Lenhart, who was strapped into the driver’s seat.
Lenhart’s foot came off the brake during the attack, sending the bus into some landscaping and a tree, police said.
Davis jumped off the bus before it hit the tree.
The suspect stayed on the scene and was taken into custody immediately. Police said he drove a private vehicle to the scene.
Lenhart was still conscious when first responders found him but he later succumbed to his injuries.
“We can take some small comfort in the knowledge that Lenhart was aware that the children left in his charge were safe and being cared for after the attack,” Pasco police said.
Davis was booked into Franklin County Jail on an investigative hold for first-degree murder.
Investigators said there is no current link between Lenhart and Davis. The attack was captured on security video, police said.
Pasco police said has had run-ins with law enforcement, as recently as in 2019. He had been referred to and transported to a medical facility after a Pasco police checked on his welfare.
“Residents of The City of Pasco and parents of school children will want to know why and how this attack could occur. At this preliminary point in the investigation, the ‘why’ would be speculation,” police said.
Anyone with information that they think might bear on this case is urged to call Dispatch at 509-628-0333 or email Detective Julie Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org about case 21-28540 Homicide.