Gwinnett driver whose school bus was shot at honored for heroism

During a Gwinnett County school board meeting on Thursday, Patricia Rodriguez (right) accepted a certificate of recognition for getting students on her bus safely to school after the bus was shot several times on May 9. (Courtesy of Gwinnett County Public Schools)

Credit: Gwinnett County Public Schools

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During a Gwinnett County school board meeting on Thursday, Patricia Rodriguez (right) accepted a certificate of recognition for getting students on her bus safely to school after the bus was shot several times on May 9. (Courtesy of Gwinnett County Public Schools)

Credit: Gwinnett County Public Schools

She ushered four children on the bus to safety

Patricia Rodriguez had picked up four Riverside Elementary School students on her bus route the morning of May 9 when the front window of her bus was shot a dozen times.

“She took immediate action and got her students to safety within seconds,” said Ben Pope, principal of Riverside.

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The district recognized Rodriguez at Thursday’s school board meeting. A nearly full room of people offered an extended ovation after Rodriguez tearfully accepted a certificate from the district.

“Thank you, Mrs. Rodriguez, for your courage, your heroism in certainly a very difficult situation,” Superintendent Calvin Watts said. “Your service to our students and to this organization is very much appreciated.”

The bus was shot about 7:15 a.m. as Rodriguez drove through the Bridgegate neighborhood in Suwanee.

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After the bus was shot, Rodriguez got the four children to school, and none of them were hurt. Rodriguez had minor injuries to her finger from shattered glass, according to police.

Celeste Michele Saunders, who lives in Bridgegate, is facing four counts of first-degree cruelty to children and five counts of aggravated assault, along with weapons charges, related to the shooting.

Police have not shared information about a possible motive.