ST. LOUIS -- A St. Louis school bus driver was brutally attacked as she brought students home Thursday afternoon, April 11, and it was all captured on video.
The driver, Patrula Griffin, was cut and bruised from head to toe, but her spirit wasn't broken after she was attacked. Despite her frustration, Griffin said she forgives those who beat her.
The video showed a crowd of adults surrounded the door of the bus at 9th Street and O’Fallon in north St. Louis. Children on and off the bus watched as Griffin attempted to fend off one woman attacking her with an ice scraper.
“I was blocking her with my hands and arms,” said Griffin.
Seconds later, another woman joined in, as the beating intensified. The pair dragged Griffin off the bus.
“I fell onto the ground. They began to kick me. They began to hit me,” Griffin said.
As the beating continued, a young girl could be seen kicking Griffin while she was down.
“I didn’t even know it until I saw the video,” Griffin said. “It was hard to watch. It was embarrassing. Degrading."
Griffin said it was made worse by the fact that she just happened to be working another driver's route that day, instead of her regular route. While working her normal shift, she said her employer, First Student, asked her to pick up a group of students from Kipp Academy.
Days earlier, a different bus driver reported having trouble with the students on board, Griffin said.
“He pulled the bus over and called it in and said, ‘I can’t do this route because the kids are out of control,’” she said.
Griffin said she found herself in a similar situation Thursday when a fight broke out between two girls. She pulled over at Prairie and Penrose. She said she called First Student and then police.
While things got sorted out, Griffin said one the girls involved in the fight was placed on another bus. The drive home continued for three miles until the stop at 9th and O’Fallon.
“I saw a lot of people standing on the other side of the street,” Griffin said.
Griffin said one of those people was the woman who attacked her, and that woman believed Griffin was responsible for the fight involving her daughter.
“The killer part about it is she just didn’t want to hear anything I had to say,” Griffin said. “They displayed the animalistic characteristics yesterday. Like savages. They stood outside the bus like savages. The guys were standing out there. Grown men standing out there and no one even said ‘Stop, don’t do that.’”
Griffin said she wants her attackers brought to justice, but also said she forgives them. She praised a higher power for her survival.
“I feel like God’s angels of protection were with me,” she said.
First Student responded to the incident with a statement that read, in part:
“We are appalled and saddened by the behavior captured in the video. We are thankful our driver was not seriously injured. We are working collaboratively with police and conducting our own internal review of the incident.”
Kipp Academy responded with its own statement:
“The safety of our students is our first priority. As we do in all matters of student safety, we responded swiftly and thoroughly, according to our policies and procedures, which were appropriately followed in this instance. We take student matters very seriously and are looking into this isolated incident.”
Meanwhile, St. Louis police said they were working to identify the suspects.