EXCLUSIVE: Teens offer perspective on Westlake school bus shooting

Jan 12, 2023, 6:45 AM

UTAH COUNTY, Utah — At first, 18-year-old Paris Parker was trying to process how on earth the windows on the bus shattered and her mind immediately turned to the difference in temperature.

It was hot inside and cold outside Tuesday night as rain fell on the lanes of northbound Interstate 15 just outside the school bus that was transporting the Westlake High School girls wrestling team home from a meet at the UCCU Center on the campus of Utah Valley University.

It quickly became clear, however, what caused the windows to break was something else entirely.

“One of our girls had mentioned she had glass in her lap,” Parker recalled during an interview Wednesday with KSL TV. “Our coach, Cody Burdett — he was like, ‘so there are holes in the windows, so girls, we’ve got to stay down.’”

Someone had apparently fired multiple shots from a pellet-style gun into the school bus, shattering at least five windows as the bus moved between Lindon and American Fork at roughly 8:45 p.m.

“We didn’t know if it was, like, a targeted attack at us, or if it was like, ‘Oh, a school bus, let’s shoot it,’” 18-year-old Chloe Shumway tried to reason. “Now, I’m like I don’t want to ride the bus to things because that could have been any one of my teammates.”

Utah Highway Patrol confirmed Wednesday that troopers were investigating the matter and working with the school and district to review surveillance footage captured by the cameras on the bus.

“(The glass) could have gotten in someone’s eyes, the pellet could have come through and hit someone in the eyeball — you don’t know what’s going to happen,” UHP Sgt. Jeff Dutson said.

Dutson said the motive was unclear and the description of the apparent suspect vehicle — a white pickup truck — was a little vague.

He was hoping anyone who may have seen the truck and captured identifying features of it, or anyone who may know anything about the shooting incident, would contact Utah Highway Patrol dispatch at 801-887-3800.

The Alpine School District on Wednesday evening issued a statement about the incident, noting that one student-athlete suffered minor injuries from broken glass.

“We are aware of and very concerned about a situation involving Westlake High School’s girls wrestling team as they traveled home,” the statement read. “We are working closely with law enforcement as they investigate this incident.

Shumway said it took her the rest of the night to come to terms with the gravity of the situation.

“I’m with those girls every day and they’re all like my family and they could have definitely got hurt and that is the scariest part,” Shumway said. “That’s just crazy.”

Both teens said they were unnerved and saddened that someone would fire into a school bus that was transporting roughly two dozen people.

“It makes me really sad to think that there are a lot of people out there that either don’t see it as a big deal because of the way society is or that people think that it may even be funny,” Parker said. “It just makes me sad that people are like that.”

Parker said she and her teammates wouldn’t be deterred by the shooting.

“We’re not going to be hiding because of the situation,” Parker said. “We’re still going to be living our lives.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Teens offer perspective on Westlake school bus shooting