A man armed with a knife took 11 elementary school children and their bus driver hostage in Jacksonville, Ark. Thursday morning during a carjacking that ended in an approximately ten-mile chase, police said.
Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident and “all 11 children are safe and with their parents,” said April Kiser, a spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Police Department.
Jacksonville Police said Nicholas John Miller, 22, a resident of the city, was on North First Street at around 7 a.m. Thursday morning when he demanded a car from a woman walking along the street knifepoint, but the woman did not have a car to give him.
Miller then turned to a elementary school bus that had made a routine stop at a nearby apartment complex, Jacksonville Police Captain Kenny Boyd said. Knife in hand, Miller got on the bus and made the driver flee the scene before taking over driver's seat himself.
“The bus would not stop so the pursuit lasted for about eight to ten miles,” Capt. Boyd said, noting that the bus was driving between 30 and 50 miles per hour.
Spike strips were deployed by another Arkansas police department assisting in the chase, Capt. Boyd said. Miller stopped the bus when he saw the spikes and was taken into custody by police at Highway 5 and Mountain Springs Road in Cabot, Ark.
Miller told police "there were people after him, and the only way to get away was to hijack the bus," according to the Jacksonville Police Department arrest report.
He also told police he had no plans to hurt the children or the bus driver and "he just needed to take the bus to save his life." Miller consented to his blood being drawn, but refused to take a breath test or to let a Drug Recognition Officer interview him, according to the report.
Miller was charged with one count of vehicle piracy, 12 counts of kidnapping, and two counts of aggravated assault and several traffic violations, Jacksonville police said.
According to police records, Miller has been arrested several times this year.
He was arrested for breaking and entering of a vehicle in May, after breaking into a man’s car and stealing $400 and a Sherwood Police Department issued shotgun, while leaving another knife behind. Miller was found with the shotgun and pleaded guilty to the charges.
Last month he was sentenced to 24 months probation and a fine of $1,500, according to Pulaski County Circuit Court records.
Miller was also pulled over on Sept. 6 by police for improper display of tabs on the vehicle he was driving.
Officers then discovered Miller had a warrant out for his arrest and conducted a search, finding a syringe with residue in the vehicle. Miller was arrested on the warrant and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. He went to court for the charges and was released.
And earlier this month on Oct. 8, police were called to residence where Miller was charged with terroristic threatening in a domestic dispute, records show. The charges were subsequently dropped and Miller was not arrested.