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Stolen school bus prompts chase through two counties; driver tossed gun out of window

By Carol Robinson

There was an unlikely sight on Birmingham area interstates Monday morning as law enforcement officers from multiple agencies chased a stolen school bus.

Brandon Peckinpaugh, 24, of Kentucky, was booked into the Jefferson County Jail shortly before 11 a.m. Monday. He is charged with attempting to elude law enforcement, reckless endangerment and resisting arrest. His bond is set at $15,000.

In Blount County, authorities Monday afternoon charged him with five felonies: first-degree theft of property, two counts of unlawful breaking and entering of a vehicle, and two counts of theft of second-degree theft of property. Authorities there said he broke into two vehicles early Monday, and stole a gun from each.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency is expected to seek an attempted murder warrant against him for running into a state trooper vehicle.

Peckinpaugh told authorities his friends left him, and he needed a ride.

It all began about 1 a.m. when authorities say the bus was stolen from the home of a bus driver in Blount County. Blount County Sheriff’s Office Operations Manager Tim Kent said the bus was taken during an early-morning spate of burglaries in the Oscar Bradford Road area.

Authorities later received a call from a citizen who was following the stolen school bus near Finley Boulevard in Birmingham. That citizen was told to stop following the bus and law enforcement officers were notified.

Jefferson County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Randy Christian said they came in contact with the bus at 7:40 a.m. after they were notified by the Blount County Sheriff’s Office that a school bus had been stolen from their jurisdiction by a white male suspect.  No children were on board the bus at the time.

At about 8:01 a.m. deputies came into contact with the stolen bus on I-59 southbound at exit 110 and attempted to stop the bus, Christian said. The driver refused to stop and a pursuit ensued.

The driver led law enforcement through the McCalla and the Oxmoor Road areas before heading onto I-459 northbound. The driver hit a State Trooper vehicle and attempted to hit several other law enforcement vehicles involved in the pursuit.

The school bus was ultimately stopped on Interstate 459 at Acton Road. Christian said the driver threw a handgun out of the school bus window. He was taken into custody without incident.

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