UPDATE (Sept. 27 2:05 PM): The Pasco Police Department hosted a press conference Monday discussing the stabbing that killed Richard Lenhart, the school bus driver.

FULL PRESS RELEASE FROM THE PASCO POLICE DEPARTMENT:

Residents of the City of Pasco should be well aware of the tragic assault that occurred Friday afternoon, September 24th, of a Pasco School District bus driver, 72-year-old Richard Lenhart. The assault occurred near Longfellow Elementary School as Lenhart was preparing to drive thirty-five students home. The suspect in the assault, Joshua D. Davis, a 34-year-old City of Richland resident, was taken into custody at the scene by responding Pasco officers.
 
Sadly, this assault involved a knife, leaving Lenhart severely injured where he ultimately succumbed to his wounds after being treated at the scene and transported to a regional trauma center. At the scene Lenhard had still been responsive to witnesses, officers, and medics. We can take some small comfort in the knowledge that Lenhart was aware that the children left in his charge were safe and being cared for after the attack.
 
The suspect, Davis, was booked into Franklin County Jail on an investigative hold for Murder First Degree and remains in custody. The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the case and will be filing appropriate charges.
Our partners at the Pasco School District immediately stepped in to offer counseling and care to the students at Longfellow, members of the school district, and to their own community of drivers, educators, and support staff within the school district, who have been deeply affected by this sudden loss within their work family.
 
The assault took place in front of witnesses and was recorded on security video. Residents of The City of Pasco and parents of school children will want to know why and how this attack could occur. At this preliminary point in the investigation, the “why” would be speculation.
 
As for the “how”, it appears that the suspect approached the stopped bus just after students had finished boarding. The bus driver opened the doors, presumably to see what the man wanted, and the man stepped in, empty-handed, to ask if the bus went to Road 100. On an active street in the middle of the afternoon, in view of others, opening the door to see what the man wanted would not normally be considered a risky action.
 
Once the driver told the man that it does not go to Road 100, the man turned to leave, then appeared to arm himself with a knife, turn, and suddenly attack the driver, who was still belted into his seat. The attack and the driver’s struggle caused the driver’s foot to come off the brake. The bus lurched forward over a curb line and a sign, stopping when it hit some landscaping and a tree. The suspect stopped the attack and jumped off the moving bus as it approached the tree.
 
The suspect did not need transportation to Road 100. Davis had driven to the scene in a private vehicle, had parked nearby, and approached the area of the school on foot. After the attack, he had headed back toward that vehicle, but then returned to be within sight of the scene as officers were arriving. He was quickly pointed out and was arrested without incident.
Investigation at the scene resulted in the suspect’s vehicle getting impounded for a search warrant, and a knife being collected as evidence. This is an important but preliminary point in the investigation, and follow-up continues. Investigators are currently unaware of any connection between the victim and the attacker, but they are persisting with efforts to uncover background information.
 
The suspect, Davis, had some previous contact with regional law enforcement. Most recently, in 2019, he had been referred to resources and transported to a medical facility after a Pasco officer and one of our Mobile Outreach Team, MHP’s, checked on his welfare.
 
As more information becomes available, we will update the public and the parents who obviously have legitimate concerns. Such information must not jeopardize an open and active investigation, however, and some aspects will require laboratory examinations.
 
Anyone with information that they think might bear on this case is urged to call Dispatch at (509)628-0333 or email Detective Julie Lee at leej@pasco-wa.gov about case 21-28540 Homicide.

UPDATE (Sept. 27 12:00 PM): Pasco Police and the Franklin County Coroner's Office will be giving a press release with more information on this at 1:30pm.


PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

PASCO, WA - A school bus driver, Richard Lenhart, 72, was stabbed at Longfellow Elementary in Pasco Friday afternoon.

Pasco Police tells NBC Right Now that an older adult male stabbed the bus driver however it is unclear whether or not the bus driver was driving at the time he was stabbed. Children were on the bus at the time of the stabbing but no children were injured.

When Police arrived the bus was found crashed into bushes on the side of the road. The adult male is in custody so there is no threat to the public at this time. The bus driver was taken to the hospital where he died of his injuries.

In a statement from Pasco School District Superintendent Michelle Whitney expressed her deepest condolences  

"It is with a heavy heart that I write to you this evening. Pasco Police Department shared information at a press conference earlier tonight that one of our bus drivers was assaulted today and died from his injuries. We are devastated by the tragic loss of one of our own. Our focus right now is on supporting our students and staff who are deeply impacted by this tragedy."

School counselors were on site over the weekend and this week to help children cope with this trauma. Whitney encourages any parents or teacher concerned about a child to please notify counselors immediately. 

This is a developing story, which means information could change. We are working to report timely and accurate information as we get it.