ST. PETERSBURG — A Pinellas County school bus driver was attacked on her bus by a 17-year-old student Wednesday after a dispute over a cell phone, police said.
Student Dorian Williams repeatedly slammed the driver's head against the bus dashboard and the steering wheel, then ripped the microphone out when she tried to call the school district for help, police said.
Williams then ran away, but he didn't go far. Firefighters who arrived to help the driver saw Williams and detained him until police showed up.
Williams denied assaulting the driver, telling police he only pushed her.
It all unfolded just before 4 p.m. on the bus ride home Wednesday from Pinellas Secondary School in Pinellas Park.
Bus driver Zaundra Renee Goner, 47, had pulled up to the bus stop along Green Way S to let some students off. One of the students gave her a cell phone that had been found on the bus.
The last student in line was Williams. He told the driver it was his phone and demanded it back, police said.
"He said he was not going to leave his phone," said police spokesman George Kajtsa.
But Goner told the student she had to make sure it was his phone. She told him he could get it from school the next morning if he could prove that it belonged to him, police said.
Williams then attacked her, police said. He grabbed the woman's head and bashed it back and forth against the dashboard and the steering wheel, police said. She tried to call school dispatch for help, officers reported, but the teenager ripped the microphone from its cord.
Goner somehow managed to get off the bus and asked a passerby to call for help. Williams then ran away. But when St. Petersburg Fire Rescue paramedics arrived to treat the injured driver, she spotted Williams still hanging around the area.
The firefighters approached Williams and detained him until police officers arrived.
Williams of 2446 DeSoto Way S was arrested on felony charges of battery on a School Board employee and tampering with a witness. He was taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.
According to state records, his first arrest was at age 14, when he was accused of disorderly conduct. He also has been arrested on charges of trespassing on school grounds, loitering and prowling, and grand theft auto. Records show that all those charges were later dropped.
Williams is a sophomore at Pinellas Secondary School, an alternative school for students in grades six through 12 who have had disciplinary problems at other county schools.
Goner was not seriously injured, according to Pinellas County school district spokeswoman Andrea Zahn.
Goner has not yet returned to work, however, and has asked to be taken off the Pinellas Secondary route. She could not be reached for comment Friday.
Police said they didn't know whether, in fact, the cell phone belonged to Williams.
Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8472.