Several good Samaritans, including a grandmother, disregarded their own safety Friday when they helped subdue and disarm a knife-waving man who attacked the driver of a bus full of schoolchildren in a rural neighborhood in southeastern San Diego County.
The school vehicle was pulling away from a stop in the 900 block of Jeb Stuart Road in Campo when the driver noticed a man running toward it about 8:30 a.m., according to San Diego Sheriff‘s officials.
Believing the approaching pedestrian was a parent trying to stop the bus for a child who had missed it, the driver pulled to a halt and opened the front door of the coach, Sgt. William Uelen said.
The man — believed to be under the influence of some sort of drug — then began to board the vehicle, which was full of Campo Elementary School students, prompting the driver to inform him that he was not allowed to do so. When the intruder refused to halt, the driver tried to physically block him from getting into the passenger area, Uelen said.
Seeing the two men grappling with each other, a grandmother of one of the students hurried aboard to try to help the driver. As the struggle between the three escalated, the assailant pulled a knife, Uelen said.
At that point, a second bystander entered the bus and intervened. Following a scuffle, he was able to pry the weapon away from the intruder and pull him off the bus.
An older student, meanwhile, ushered the other children to the back of the vehicle, called out for help to some parents who were still nearby and helped the young pupils get out of the bus via a back door and rear windows.
Arriving deputies arrested the suspect, later identified as 36-year-old Matthew Douglas Barker of Campo, without further incident. No injuries were reported.
Preliminary evidence indicated that “drugs were a factor in this incident,” the sergeant said.
A man who identified himself as Barker’s father told 10News the suspect had been hallucinating and behaving in a paranoid manner, and possibly was under the influence of a controlled substance.
Barker was booked into San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a transportation worker or passenger. He was being held on $30,000 bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
–City News Service