Suspects identified in school bus case


Three teenagers have been identified in connection with the recent burglaries and vandalism of 14 Gonzales school buses.

Gonzales police Capt. Allen Taylor reported that Pierce Layne Navarro, 17, of Gonzales, was arrested and booked into Gonzales County Jail within 24 hours of the incident. Taylor also reported that two minors were also detained in connection with the incident.

Navarro posted a $7,000 bond on Nov. 8 and was released from jail.

“One juvenile has been released to the parent, and the other was called in for a detention hearing,” Taylor said. “That juvenile was ordered back to detention, and is believed by police to be involved in at least one of the burglaries [in question].”

The arrests stem from an incident that occurred between 5 p.m. Nov. 6 and 5 a.m. Nov. 7 in which vandals are believed to have climbed over the fence that surrounds the Gonzales ISD bus yard on St. Lawrence Street, broke into 14 buses and discharged the onboard fire extinguishers throughout the buses.

When transportation department employees arrived about 5 a.m. Wednesday to begin the morning’s bus routes, the vandalism was discovered and Gonzales police were summoned.

Eleven other buses parked in the yard were not vandalized.

“We’ll move forward,” GISD superintendent Dr. Kim Strozier said of how the district planned deal with the situation. “It’s a shame. The bright side is, no one was hurt.”

School officials were hopeful police would be able to accumulate evidence that would lead to identifying those responsible for the vandalism. Police scoured the school district in search of the missing 14 fire extinguishers, and were able to quickly apprehend the suspects.

Strozier said the morning of the vandalism, all students still arrived at school with minimum delay. A professional cleaning company was called in and was able to get the buses cleaned within a couple of days.

Using extra buses held in reserve for back up, and through the cooperation of parents and the community, the bus routes were virtually back to normal by the next day in spite of the continuing clean-up efforts.

“It’s disappointing that we would have someone who would do something like this,” Strozier said. “Our immediate response was to get the authorities there and then get the routes re-routed, get these drivers out to get these kids to school and get the message to the parents.”

The superintendent praised the cooperation and spirit of the community as it reacted to the incident, which is believed to be the first in recent memory.

“We have very, very little vandalism,” said Ron Bragg, who has been with GISD for six years. “We don’t even have people writing on the side of our bus, which we’re very proud of, because our kids take care of our stuff.”

Strozier indicated that the district will look at the possibility of installing surveillance cameras around the bus yard in an effort to better monitor the premises.