Bullet hits school bus, driver takes students to safety

A bullet hit a school bus loaded with children heading home from school in Syracuse Tuesday afternoon. The gunfire was part of a shooting spree that included more than 15 shots fired from two vehicles chasing after each other along South Avenue.Syracuse police Sgt. Tom Connellan called the shooters brazen in their disregard for the safety of anyone else around. One bullet hit the back of a Hybrid car. The unusual nature of the car with its engine in the rear may have stopped the bullet from hitting the people inside. At least 15 shell casings have been recovered and two passenger vehicles were also struck by bullets. â??This is extremely dangerous, we are very, very lucky that we are not talking about a dead child, or several people killed tonight,â?? said Connellan.

Police say it was a light colored sedan chasing after mini-van on Syracuse's southside. One gunman was seen hanging out the window firing the weapon. Investigators are operating under the premise that the shooting is gang related.

In an exclusive phone interview, one of the people who was driving a car that was struck spoke with CNYcentral's Michael Benny. He was driving his hybrid vehicle when he heard "pops." The sound of the bullets, "were getting louder as the vehicles approached us," the driver told Benny. "I saw this one guy hanging out the side and he was firing shots. I swerved the car and one bullet hit the car. It came in the back where my car has these really large batteries, and that is what stopped the bullet," the driver recounted. The man, who does not want his name revealed, says he had two passengers in the car, they are all shaken up but otherwise ok.

As for the school bus, there were 15 children on board. The driver took them to a safe spot. None of them were hurt.

Though the identity of the bus driver has not been released, the director of Transportation in the Syracuse School District says he "did exacly as he was taught." Pat Bailey told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "The worst thing a bus driver can do if they think they got hit, is to stop and pull over and then they get involved in something they shouldn't, especially with kids on board. So that driver did exactly as he was taught. We are very very proud of him."

Police are asking for the public's help to find the shooters. â??These people had no regard for human life,â?? Sgt.Connellan said. They would like you to call 442-5222 if you have information.