Merced County school buses shot at while returning from band event

A shooter using a pellet or BB gun smashed out the windows of at least three buses carrying band students from several Merced County high schools Saturday night, according to the California Highway Patrol and school administrators.

Officials said no one was injured and that three or four buses were hit by bullets.

The buses were traveling from a band competition in the Santa Cruz area when the shootings occurred, on Highway 152 near the San Luis Reservoir. The buses pulled over at the Romero Visitor's Center on the county's Westside and contacted police just before 9 p.m., the CHP said.

"It sounds like we've had several of our buses shot at in some fashion and some windows came out," said Raynee Daley, an associate superintendent with the Merced Union High School District. "Our kids are home safe. The buses have unloaded and everyone is safe."

Daley said the students involved attended Merced, Golden Valley and Buhach Colony high schools. She said a bus carrying students from Atwater High School was traveling behind the others and wasn't hit. It was escorted past the scene of the shootings by CHP patrol cars blaring their lights.

Officials with the CHP weren't sure how many suspects might have been involved in the shootings and said no one had been arrested.

Drivers from the buses that were hit stayed behind to provide statements to investigators, Daley said. Students were loaded three-to-a-seat onto other buses in the caravan, then taken back to their schools, she said. District administrators stood waiting at each high school to meet students and answer questions from parents, Daley added.

The CHP said around 10:30 p.m. that officers were still at the scene conducting interviews.