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Recently, a high school student in Washington County was arrested after allegedly displaying a toy gun on a school bus.

The bus driver at the time, Dakota Tindell, spoke about the incident and his role in contacting law enforcement with Washington County News.

Tindell was driving his usual route and was three stops in when a first-grade student said to him, “He’s got a gun.”

Tindell asked the girl who and she said one of the big kids. Tindell was almost to his step where five or six of those big kids would be getting off. 

“Initially, I was scared because all she told me was he had a gun,” Tindell said. “Unfortunately, in today’s world, you never know if it’s real or fake.” 

Upon inspection, officers discovered the supposed firearm concealed in the student’s backpack, wrapped in a black T-shirt with only the muzzle visible. An examination revealed that the item was a toy gun modified to look like a real weapon.

Resolving not to use the radio to communicate the issue with another adult, Tindell said he took a deep breath, said a little prayer, and turned on a side street.

He gave the kids the excuse that he missed his stop and called a bus mechanic on his personal phone. Tindell instructed the mechanic that they would talk like there was a mere mechanical issue with the bus.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office was alerted by the time Tindell was on 2nd Street, with Tindell telling the mechanic he was at a familiar location known to the two of them.

Tindell said he pretended like his bus was acting up before law enforcement arrived and told the kids he was on the phone with the mechanic. The big kids wanted him to open the door and let them off, Tindell said.

“They said, ‘We know you’re lying,’” Tindell said. 

Tindell asked for law enforcement to hurry up. Police arrived just as the kids were becoming “antsy,” Tindell said.

The students on the bus were asked to put their hands on the top of their seats, according to Tindell.

He then asked the first-grade student to tell WCSO what she told him. Afterwards, they reportedly pulled the student with the alleged toy gun off the bus. 

The student was arrested and charged with exhibiting a weapon on school property and disturbing the peace.

Tindell said he was “definitely glad” the gun wasn’t real.

“It was a sigh of relief but it’s still scary,” he said.

Garett Valcourt contributed to this story.