Sanbornton man charged with firing plastic pellets at school bus carrying Winnisquam High School students

SANBORNTON — Police have charged a local man with two counts each of reckless conduct and criminal threatening after he allegedly fired plastic pellets from an Airsoft pistol at two school buses Wednesday afternoon.

Chief Stephen Hankard said Tarance Piper, 24 of 753 Sanborn Road claimed the incident started when some of the high school students on one of the buses made obscene gestures while he was in a car that was traveling behind the bus.

Hankard said Piper is known to police.

Hankard said the incident unfolded just before 3 p.m. Wednesday when a Winnisquam Regional School District bus carrying high school students was headed into Sanbornton on Route 132 and the car in which Piper was a passenger passed the bus after it pulled over near Lanchaster Hill Road.

He said the bus driver saw the car in her rear view mirror and said it appeared the driver of the car wanted to pass so she pulled to the right. As the driver was passing the bus, Hankard said students heard the pinging of the little green pellets and saw that it was Airsoft gun.

After the car passed the first bus, Hankard said it got behind a second bus and Piper allegedly fired pellets at that bus as well. He said the first bus driver had contacted the second bus driver who had called 9-1-1.

Police intercepted the car just north of the intersection of Route 132 and Route 127 and found Piper sitting in the back seat with the air-powered pellet gun.

Hankard said they took Piper into custody and he allegedly told them he was firing in the air, but both of the bus drivers and the students told police they could hear the pellets pinging off the side of the bus.

Piper was officially charged yesterday morning and and released on $6,000 personal recognizance bail. He is scheduled to appear in the 6th Circuit Court, Franklin Division on November 7.

Superintendent Tammy Davis said the school bus drivers both did what they were supposed to do and called the police. She said they didn't drop off any of the students until police had apprehended Piper and made sure the buses were safe.

She said an e-mail blast was sent to all of the parents of the children who were on the bus. Davis said she notified the School Board about the incident and said she was very grateful that no one was injured.
Hankard said the students recognized that Piper was allegedly firing an Airsoft gun and not a real pistol, and that was the report that was sent to police. He said the Airsoft guns look very much like real pistols except for an orange tip on the barrel.