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Two officers injured, three teens face charges in school bus fracas in Berks County

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 15 2013 04:35:42 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 15 2013 04:35:00 PM CST

Conrad Weiser assault

HEIDELBERG TWP., Pa. -

Chaos erupted inside a school bus in Berks County on Friday afternoon, resulting in two injured officers and three teenagers facing charges.

The brawl between two high school girls broke out just barely off of the Conrad Weiser High School property, as a bus was taking students home for the weekend.

"You don't expect a scuffle... attack... or possibility of a weapon being used," said Lisa Meginley, a nearby resident.

State Police said it happened in Heidelberg Township.

"One girl came up and punched the other girl. The rest of the students on the bus somewhat forced the aggressor out of the bus," said Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David Beohm.

Beohm said the bus driver stopped the bus along the side of Penn Avenue and flagged down a Western Berks police officer who was nearby. When the trooper arrived, the female aggressor was outside of the school bus.

"Officer tries to calm her down and she swings at the cop. He tries to restrain her but she's not cooperative, he tries to call for backup," Beohm said.

Beohm said an officer from the Heidelberg Township Police Department arrived shortly after. That's when the violence escalated even further.

"They hear banging from the bus door, like violent banging on the door. They open the door and the juvenile male comes out and punches the cop in the face," Beohm said.

Beohm said the two officers and the teenage boy entered into a scuffle that sent all three to the ground and down an embankment. Officers then attempted to fire a Taser to gain control of the teenage boy.

"One of the officers deploys Taser, but only gets one of the prongs. Then the other cop used his Taser," Beohm said.

This allowed officers to round up the teenage boy for arrest, who now faces aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, and harassment. He is being held at the Abraxas Academy.

Both teenage girls were detained on Friday and face harassment charges. The teenage girl who attempted to hit the officer also faces a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge.

The two girls were released from custody. Both officers were treated and released from Reading Hospital for minor injuries suffered in the scuffle.

Joey Eckenroth, a senior at Conrad Weiser High School, said not all of his peers respect authority.

"There's no respect with kids my age and officers. They think it's a big joke," Eckenroth said.

Eckenroth said he was not surprised to hear what had happened, but couldn't understand why his classmates would attack another student or a cop.

Trooper Beohm has devoted more than 20 years to law enforcement, and said the lack of respect for officers is a growing trend.

"A lot more disrespect, yes. Not necessarily just with juveniles," Beohm said.

Meginley and Eckenroth believe the officers acted within reason.

"Children deserved it. If the police officers thought their lives were in jeopardy because kids were unruly and not stopping, then they needed to use whatever force necessary," Meginley said.