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SK man charged with shooting bus driver

An 18-year-old South Kitsap man was charged last week with shooting a bus driver in the arm while she was driving students home from a local elementary school, according to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.

Robert E. Stowell pleaded not guilty to one count of third-degree assault Thursday in Kitsap County Superior Court. He was later released after posting $2,000 bail.

According to incident reports, the 41-year-old was driving near the 1100 block of Nebraska Street and dropping off Manchester Elementary School students shortly after 4 p.m. on Sept. 7 when she heard a “pop” sound and felt a sharp pain in her left forearm.

She did not see a shooter, but immediately radioed for help and South Kitsap Fire and Rescue personnel, South Kitsap School District officials and Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene.

The projectile — an air gun pellet — had apparently entered the bus through the driver’s window, which was open, and sank about four inches into her arm. The victim was taken to a local urgent care facility, where the pellet was removed.

No students were injured during the assault, and a relief driver arrived shortly after the incident to finish driving the children home.

The responding deputy did not interview any of the children before they left the scene, but contacted two adults nearby.

The first was identified as Stowell, who told the deputy that he saw a white male that he estimated to be 18, running from the scene and carrying a rifle-type BB gun.

The second subject was a 36-year-old woman who said she also saw a young man, whom she estimated to be 14 or 15, who was shooting a BB gun in front of the defendant’s home a few minutes prior to the incident.

Neither subject had actually witnessed the shooting.

Later the deputy contacted Stowell’s mother, who told him that her son had just purchased a BB gun. When the deputy asked Stowell about the gun, he first claimed repeatedly that he did not know where it was, but eventually led the deputy to a clearing where he had hidden the gun.

The gun was identified as a Daisy (brand) rifle style pellet gun, and was recovered along with a rifle scope and two cans of .177 caliber pellet ammunition.

Sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Scwott Wilson said that detectives continued with the investigation and developed enough probable cause to arrest Stowell Wednesday. He was then booked into Kitsap County Jail for an initial charge of second-degree assault and was held under $100,000 bail.

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