Most Viewed Stories
Teen shot near school bus stop
Activity may have been gang related
A 16-year-old Porterville teen is being treated at a Fresno hospital following a shooting at a school bus stop Wednesday afternoon in the 14500 block of Tobias Road, near Avenue 145, in Poplar.
“We received a call at about 2:49 p.m. that a shooting victim was being transported privately to a local-area hospital,” said Tulare County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Chris Douglass. “It appears to have been a drive-by and gang related, and they are investigating it right now.”
The teen was transported by helicopter to Community Regional in Fresno.
The teen’s parents rushed from working in the fields to the scene after they were summoned by a neighbor.
The boy’s father said he did not know what had happened but talked briefly to his son who told him he was on his way to a Fresno hospital.
He also said he heard his son had been shot in his lower abdomen and that the bullet was still “inside him.”
The shooting occurred minutes before a Rockford Elementary School bus arrived at a stop at that location, said parents who were at the site waiting for their children.
“It’s a parent’s worse nightmare,” said Gloria Martinez, grandmother of one of the children on the bus.
According to Martinez, she was at her sister’s home near the corner of Tobias Road and Avenue 145 and had just looked at the clock to see if it was time to leave for the bus stop.
“The clock said 2:48 p.m. and the bus arrives at 2:53 p.m.,” Martinez said. “As I was looking at the time, we heard ‘boom’ — a gunshot — then a pause, and ‘boom boom,’ two more. I said to my sister, ‘Those are gunshots — the children!’ and we rushed out here. There were several teens arguing with [older] men and there was a lot of yelling. The bus hadn’t arrived and we just stayed out of the way.”
Just then Martinez and her sister, Hope Lucio, saw the Rockford school bus coming around the corner, stopping next to where the shooting occurred.
Parents said the bus driver would not let the children off the bus and within minutes, several sheriff’s vehicles arrived, blocking a section of the street and the bus.
“They say it was a drive-by but we didn’t see any cars,” Martinez said. “I’m always fearing for the kids’ safety at this stop. That’s why I am always here to get her. But I always feared it would be an abduction, not a shooting.”
Lucio and Martinez said parents began arriving — panicked over the children who were still on the bus. They did not know, several said, if the area was safe.
“They wouldn’t let the children out. The bus was full — about 60 kids, and most of them get off here,” Lucio said. “They finally let the kids go and then two cop cars — one in front and one in back — escorted the bus away. It’s very scary. This is the only bus stop for Poplar. We need to have a police officer parked here every day when the bus arrives. They do that around other schools. They can do it here. The public needs to know how dangerous it is here.”
Martinez’ 9-year-old granddaughter said the bus driver told them to “Stay down and get away from the windows.” She also said “Everyone was scared but we wanted to look out the window and see what was happening.”
“I’m going to start taking her to school and picking her up there,” Martinez said. “This is too scary and it’s not going to stop. Two years ago we had a drive-by and it continued for two days.”
The incident remains under investigation of the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.