Woman who shot at Gwinnett County bus with kids inside had prior beef with bus, neighbors say

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A woman who shot at a school bus full of children has previously thrown rocks at the bus and at other cars, neighbors said.

Channel 2′s Audrey Washington was in Gwinnett County, where Celeste Saunders was arrested after the incident unfolded in Suwanee on May 9.

Patricia Rodriguez was driving her regular bus route near Highland Gate Circle in Suwanee when Saunders pulled out a gun and fired several shots into the bus. Four students were on board at the time.

Rodriguez dodged the bullets by yanking the bus up over a curb and driving through a lawn before driving the children to school, where she knew they would be safe. She sustained injuries to her hands during the incident due to shattered glass.

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“When the gunshot first happened and struck the bus she was immediately able to turn the bus into a subdivision and change the route and put the back of the bus between her and the kids and the assailant,” Steve Knudsen, with the Gwinnett County Board of Education said.

Police have charged Saunders with a number of offenses including aggravated assault.

Washington learned that Saunders had previously thrown rocks at the bus and at other cars.

Neighbors told investigators that Saunders would routinely walk her dogs in the middle of the street and force cars to go around her. They said there was one incident where the bus could not pass Saunders and that’s what sparked the animosity.

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On Thursday night, Gwinnett County school board members honored Rodriguez, whose quick thinking possibly saved her life and the lives of the students on board, they said.

Rodriguez cried as the Riverside Elementary School principal and other officials presented her with the special honor.

Rodriguez told school officials she was still too upset to speak publicly, but plans to eventually return to the job she loves.

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Knudsen said Rodriguez is a hero.

“In a crisis, 99 times out of 100, we do the wrong thing,” Knudsen said. “She did the right thing.”

Saunders is still in jail and hasn’t given police an official statement about what happened on that day.

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