GRANTS- What started out as a normal workday on Friday morning for Jay Chavez, Director of Transportation for the Grants Cibola County School District (GCCSD), turned into a day in which he witnessed first hand an incident that drew morning headlines from across the state and held up traffic in Albuquerque for seven hours. The incident involved a stolen school bus taken from an Albuquerque bus yard by Nathaniel Shipman, 27, driven to Grants, back to Albuquerque and stopped only after a Cibola County sheriff’s deputy shot him three times. Shipman is in a guarded condition at an Albuquerque hospital and expected to survive. Chavez said he was driving to work and smelled something burning near I-40, exit 89, near the Skyway convenience store. He then noticed a school bus traveling down the interstate with sparks coming out from the front from a blown-out right front tire. “I could see sparks flying everywhere,” said Chavez, who still had excitement in his voice after witnessing the incident. The transportation director said he wondered immediately if this school bus belonged to GCCSD. So he caught up to the bus, which was traveling at a speed of 50 mph. He pulled along side and noticed emblazoned on the side Albuquerque Public Schools (APS). He followed the bus to the outskirts of Grants, where the bus pulled off at exit 85 and then pulled into the Phillips 66 station on Santa Fe Avenue. The driver crossed the street and pulled into the Comfort Inn Hotel parking lot. “I pulled up right behind the bus to see if the driver needed some help,” said Chavez. Chavez said he found it odd, “This guy was gunning the engine and wasn’t wearing a shirt, and I didn’t know if he was out of it. I became leery…I wondered, what is this guy up to? I thought I better not mess with this guy. So I just made a circle and drove out.” After Chavez arrived at his office, he called the Grants’ Comfort Inn clerk, and the clerk called police. At 5:40 a.m. the Grants Police Department (GPD) dispatcher received a call reporting that a person driving a bus was acting suspicious. Manuel Gonzalez, Comfort Inn clerk, said the bus pulled into the parking lot at around 5 a.m. “It took about 30 minutes for the bus to get out of the parking lot,” said Gonzalez, “The driver kept popping the clutch and revving the engine. I thought, either this guy doesn’t know how to drive, or the bus is breaking down.” “This didn’t seem right,” said Gonzales. “I couldn’t shake it out of my head that this bus must be stolen.” So he called the police. GPD officers Karl Ustupski and Chris Zook responded, and upon their arrival, the bus took off and rammed the GPD vehicle. According to Grants Police Department, Lt. Maxine Spidle, Ustupski discharged his firearm as the bus was entering the I-40 ramp toward Albuquerque. It was not determined if the shot fired by Ustupski hit Shipman. The New Mexico State Police are investigating the shooting incident. “The suspect was all over the road. It was a horrific incident. We’re very blessed that we do not have innocent people that were in harm’s way from the suspect as he made his way from Grants,” said Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston. According to court documents, Shipman’s arrest record revealed that he has been involved in numerous incidents in the past few years. He was accused of using a motorized cart to steal from a Walmart, disorderly conduct and assaulting a police officer, and he was detained after he was found in a neighbor’s yard fighting with a mailbox, hitting a vehicle, and making snow angels in the gravel. All court document reports indicate that these incidents occurred in Albuquerque.