Charges: Armed driver rammed school bus, threatened occupants
The man accused of threatening the lives of children on an Anchorage school bus Wednesday morning had just rammed the bus until it couldn’t drive, police said, then tried to board it.
David Aaron Lee, 38, faces 8 counts of third-degree assault, as well as charges ranging from failure to stop at the direction of an officer to weapons misconduct in the incident involving a bus bound for Baxter Elementary School. He was slated to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.
Three Anchorage schools entered stay-put mode Wednesday as police took Lee into custody during an intensive manhunt, arresting him from a vehicle leaving the area.
APD officer Alan Rydberg was sent to Muldoon Road’s southbound lanes shortly after 8:30 a.m., because a white Chevrolet Cavalier was parked in the second lane. Rydberg saw that the driver, Lee, was “leaning back in the seat and his head was leaning forward” – and that a 1911 semi-automatic pistol with a cocked hammer was sitting between the center console and driver’s seat.
“Lee then woke up and tried to drive away,” prosecutors wrote. “Officer Rydberg then activated his [lights and siren] to pull the vehicle over. The vehicle would not pull over and was weaving back and forth in front of cars.”
As Rydberg pulled over to report the incident, another call came in that the Cavalier was “now repeatedly ramming a school bus with five special needs students inside.”
Other officers responded to the school bus at 36th Avenue and Upland Drive, where the driver told officers she was en route to pick up a student when the Cavalier drove past her. It then turned around and struck the bus as it tried to pass between the passenger side of the bus and a parked car.
“The driver then backed up about 100 feet and accelerated and hit the bus again until the bus became disabled,” prosecutors wrote.
Immediately afterward, the bus driver said Lee got out of the Cavalier with “something in his hand that she thought was a gun.”
“Lee walked around the bus and came up (to) the front of the bus, pointed at her, and told her that he knows what she looks like and that he was going to kill her,” prosecutors wrote. “She said he had crazy eyes and that when he said that she looked away from him. She was afraid Lee was going to shoot her and the kids. Lee tried to get on the bus but could not get in.”
A witness told police that after the crash, Lee had climbed out of the Cavalier’s drivers-side window because the door was smashed closed. He left the scene by running through her backyard.
Officers were soon alerted to a white SUV which Lee had reportedly been seen getting into. Police were able to pull the SUV over and detained Lee, a passenger; according to APD spokeswoman Renee Oistad, the driver was interviewed but not arrested.
Lee, who stands 6 feet, 5 inches tall, allegedly gave his name to police as that of a man who stands 5 feet, 8 inches tall. He then gave another false name, but witnesses brought to the scene identified him as the suspect in the school bus crash.
Police arrested Lee, whose boots matched tracks from the scene of the crash; he also had fresh blood on his hand and the left leg of his pants.
“Lee would not comply with fingerprinting and told officers he would physically fight them if they tried to force him to provide prints,” prosecutors wrote.
Lee had already been sought by APD since at least last week, in a series of domestic-violence assaults against women including a shooting.
Daniella Rivera and John Thain contributed information to this story.
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