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Teen in fair condition following shooting
Rockford bus driver praised for effort
A 16-year-old juvenile shot in front of his home during a drive by shooting Wednesday afternoon in Poplar is in fair condition Community Regional Hospital in Fresno.
The teen was standing in his yard in the 14500 block of Tobias in Poplar when a vehicle described as a 1991 or 1992, red, four door Honda Accord, drove by and fired multiple shots, said Tulare County Sheriff’s officials.
Struck in the abdomen, he was transported by a private vehicle toward a local hospital but met with an ambulance at Road 208 and Avenue 152, transported to a helicopter and flown to the Fresno hospital.
The shooting took place in the same area that one of two Rockford buses drop off students in the afternoon but the bus, driven by Steve Salter, arrived after the teen had left.
Salter said he pulled up to the usual spot with an approximate 50 to 60 students and saw a man standing in the middle of the street talking into a cell phone. Another man was closing a gate.
“His initial thought was that dogs might have gotten out. That’s the only complaint we’ve ever had — dogs not leashed,” said Andy Shultz, Rockford School District’s Superintendent. “Occasionally, we’ll get an angry parent reporting that they are worried a child might be bitten by an unleashed dog.”
Another man alerted Salter, who is facilities manager at the district and has been driving the bus for close to 30 years, of the situation.
“Steve, having heard that, was not going to let the children off the bus,” Schultz said.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived moments later and once they secured the area and Salter received the all-clear, he let the children disembark. The bus was then escorted out of the area by two Sheriff’s vehicles.
“His knowledge and expertise as one of our bus drivers are assets whose value can not be measured in dollars and cents,” Schultz said. “The Rockford School District is truly thankful for his efforts and for making the right call in getting the kids home safely.”
According to two parents at the site, parents feared for the students’ safety and are thankful for the actions of the bus driver.
A 9-year-old child who was on the bus, said everyone in the bus was scared but that the bus driver told them to “Stay down and get away from the windows.”
Detectives from the Violent Crimes and Forensic Investigations Units were called to investigate the case. Detectives have learned that the teen was standing outside when the vehicle drove by and shots were fired. They also learned that the shooting may be gang related.
This case remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 800-808-0488. Information may also be sent anonymously through text or voicemail to 559-725-4194 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.