by Edward Ng
Special to the Astro City Rocket
ASTRO CITY - A busload of children taken hostage last night by members of the Bonebreakers street gang were rescued by the Flying Fox after a police standoff.
The bus, from the Bolling Elementary School, was returning from a field trip to the Gaines RiverPort, with 68 third-graders aboard, plus three teachers and the driver, Hiram Crankshaft, 63. While driving along Weisinger Street at approximately 5:40 PM, the bus was boarded by Bonebreakers members apparently under the influence of illicit substances. "It was terrible," said Funky Winkerbean, 33, one of the teachers aboard the bus. "They were all strung out on something, and waving guns around ... I couldn't believe one of them just didn't go off by accident."
It's unclear why the gang members took over the bus. Police have speculated that it might have been a kidnapping scheme, or perhaps it was a bizarre form of joyriding. "For all we know," said Sgt. Lucio Perez, of the 22nd Precinct, they just wanted to have some fun scaring the kids and drivin' around like lunatics in a school bus. One of 'em, after he was took in, kept singin' the 'Partridge Family' theme song. Go figure."
Shortly after the bus was taken, its erratic driving patterns alerted motorists, who contacted police. Blockades were set up across Schaffenberger Avenue, and when the bus came to a halt, it was surrounded by S.W.A.T. forces. At that point, the gang members threatened to kill or maim students if they weren't released.
"We couldn't get at them," said Sgt. Perez. "There were too many kids. No way for sharpshooters to take 'em out safely, no way to storm the bus."
But as the gang members attention was engaged by police negotiators, the Flying Fox, who has been active in and around the Elias Square neighborhood, dropped to the roof of the bus from above and slipped in a back window, with the help of children aboard the bus