Accused Polk County school bus shooter facing over 40 charges

Phillip Smith booking photo

BARTOW, FL (WFLA)- A former collegiate athlete will face a Polk County judge Thursday on charges of shooting a BB gun into two school buses.

Phillip Smith, 18, was arrested Wednesday on 42 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill. He is currently being held without bond at the South County Jail.

Sheriff Grady Judd credits tips from the community for Smith’s quick arrest. Bus surveillance video showed a silver Lexus passing one of the school buses.

“As a result of a concerned citizen’s information, we have identified the person responsible for risking the lives of 39 children and three school board employees,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “The safety of our children is our top priority. Our detectives have worked around the clock on this investigation. We will continue to work closely with Polk County Schools to ensure students have a safe environment, whether it’s in the classroom as they are learning, or traveling back and forth to school.”

Thanks to a tip, detectives were able to locate the vehicle on the campus of Warner University. Deputies made contact with Smith and found a BB gun inside the Lexus. The school’s president says Smith was dismissed from the university. He was attending Warner on a partial basketball scholarship.

The shootings happened Sept. 25 as the bus drivers ran their afternoon routes down Highway 17/92 in Davenport. No one was injured, but the shootings startled many students on board.

Smith is sent to face a judge at Thursday afternoon at 1:30. Check back with WFLA.com for updates on the case.

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