WATSONVILLE -- No one was injured when someone fired at least two shots into a Pajaro Valley school bus leaving an apartment complex on Holohan Road after dropping off students at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The stop at the Northgate Apartments on Holohan just past the Green Valley Road intersection was the driver's last of the day and he was alone on the bus.
Brett McFadden, chief business officer for the school district, said the two 22-caliber bullets recovered by Santa Cruz County sheriff's deputies were fired through windows near the front of the bus opposite the driver.
"We were very fortunate the bullets didn't strike the driver or ricochet off and hit the driver," McFadden said. "This was very serious."
Sheriff's Sgt. Steve Carney said the driver told deputies he thought he heard workers in nearby berry fields stapling plastic to hoop houses, but when he pulled into the bus yard, about a mile away on Grimmer Road, he realized the windows were shattered.
"Whether someone intentionally shot at the bus or the window, we don't know at this point," Carney said. But he added there was no evidence to indicate that the bus driver had been targeted.
"Thankfully, no kids were on the bus," he said.
Carney said the shots appeared to have come from apartment complex. However, no suspects were turned up during a search of the area after the incident.
Carney said a few weeks ago an incident of rock throwing at cars and a bus on Highway 9 led to an arrest, but this type of crime is rare.
"This appears to be isolated," he said.
McFadden said he believes school buses are safe, though he has told drivers and other school personnel to be "mindful" and report any suspicious activity.
The district transports an average of 6,500 students to and from school and after-school activities on weekdays. It runs 84 routes across South County.
McFadden said district personnel, looking for truants, have had concerns about safety during visits to the apartment complex.
The complex sits just inside Watsonville city limits, and adjacent to the district headquarters in The Towers office building. Police Sgt. Saul Gonzalez said the apartments are not particularly troublesome.
"There have been sporadic problems," he said, "but nothing that we could say it's a problematic apartment complex, nothing like gang-infested or drug-infested."
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