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10-Year-Old Suspected In Shooting Of School Bus Driver

November 4, 1988 GMT

PORT ARTHUR, Texas (AP) _ A 10-year-old boy who may have feared being reported for truancy shot a school bus driver in the head, critically wounding her, police said.

Russell Jean Hampton, 40, was shot in the base of the skull Thursday with a small-caliber handgun, police said. She remained in critical condition early today at St. Mary’s Hospital here.

The boy was taken into custody at his grandparents’ house, near the site of the shooting, after his grandmother called police. He could go before a state district judge today and face charges, authorities said.

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″I talked to one of the assistant superintendents who is familiar with the boy, and he said everyone was quite surprised,″ said Joe M. Pitts, superintendent of the Port Arthur schools. ″He was an all-around student and did a good job participating in school.″

The youth was seen running from the bus shortly before Ms. Hampton was found, police said. Another bus driver found her slumped over the steering wheel and called an ambulance.

The shooting occurred after Ms. Hampton had dropped off students at Dick Dowling Elementary School and was returning to the district’s bus storage barn, police said.

″Apparently this boy had missed the bus earlier in the day and she had seen him riding his bicycle along the road on her way back,″ said police Lt. J.W. Fontenot. ″We don’t know whether he was riding his bike to school or playing hooky.″

Police speculated that Ms. Hampton had told the boy to get on the bus, with the intention of returning him to school and possibly reporting him for truancy.

Fontenot said the boy also may have been afraid school officials would discover the weapon. A .22-caliber handgun and the boy’s bicycle were recovered from the bus, Fontenot said.

The shooting victim’s father, Russell DeJohn of Port Arthur, said he was shocked by the incident.

″She was a housewife and a mother and she never bothered anybody,″ DeJohn said.