‘This has changed my whole life’: Driver recounts attempted shooting on Prince George’s Co. school bus

Natalie Brower addressing reporters from the offices of ACE-AFSCME Local 2250 (WTOP/John Domen)
“This has changed my whole life,” said Natalie Brower, her voice shaking as she addressed reporters from the offices of ACE-AFSCME Local 2250.

For the first time since that fateful day, Brower spoke out about the attempted shooting of a student by three teenage boys on her school bus last month.

On May 1, Brower stopped to drop off a final student from a Prince George’s County school when three suspects boarded her bus at the intersection of Iverson Street and Sutler Drive to attack a student.

During the assault, one of the suspects known as “Baby K” is alleged to have brandished a handgun and attempted to shoot the victim several times. The weapon malfunctioned, and the student survived the attack with only minor injuries.

What does she remember?

“Oh … that gun,” she said. “That gun and seeing that gun jam. And thinking [the victim] was sitting in the seats directly behind me. Right behind me when they attacked him.”

Otherwise, the boys who got on that bus that day never said a word to her. Never even looked at her, she said. But since then, Brower can’t shake the idea that if the gun hadn’t jammed she might not have made it either.

“It’s something I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to go through,” she said.

Once the driver’s aide got back on her bus, she drove everyone to a safe place about a mile away to wait for police. She said the boy was beaten pretty badly and left bloodied and swollen.

“He said ‘let’s go, let’s go, they’re trying to kill me,’” she remembered. “He had a big knot on his face. They hit him pretty hard.”

Brower said she can’t shake what happened. She’s now dealing with anxiety and insomnia, which is stronger than the medication prescribed to help her sleep. She hasn’t gone back to work yet, and she’s not sure she will.

Brower and Martin Diggs, the president of ACE-AFSCME 2250, the union that represents personnel throughout the school system, say more is needed to protect school employees.

“We want the county … to take a look at the recommendations that Local 2250 have given to the school system,” said Diggs.

That includes beefing up security at elementary schools and on buses, noting that some administrative buildings used by the school system that don’t have any students in them still have more security than those facilities that do. They want more security and more working cameras on buses, which he said are currently used to protect kids but not drivers.

“They need to have additional aides on the bus so the bus driver can focus in on driving,” he said.

“The response has been so far is that we can’t make these changes due to the budgetary implications,” said Diggs. “So are we actually saying we can’t make any changes until someone gets killed?

“We don’t want the schoolyard to be the graveyard and if we don’t make some changes that’s what’s going to happen,” he added.

The teenagers that stormed the bus — a 15-year-old and a 14-year-old, and an additional 14-year-old girl — are all being held without bond and facing charges related to the case. The armed teenager, who police are only referring to as “Baby K,” is being charged as an adult with first and second-degree attempted murder, assault, firearms offenses and additional charges.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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