By Mike LaBella
---- — HAVERHILL Police said students on two school buses could have been shot in the eye or side of the head and seriously injured by BBs fired at the buses today, shattering windows and spraying glass.
At a press conference late this afternoon, police said they believe the BBs were fired by the same person, possibly in a vehicle that drove past the buses. Police said video footage obtained by one of the school buses may provide a description of the shooter.
The first incident happened on a Head Start bus this morning about 11:30 a.m. in the area of Main and Marshland streets. Police Lt. Pistone said there were 3- and 4-year-olds on the bus. The second incident happened about 2:30 p.m. at Winter and Hale streets. Pistone said he believes that bus was carrying high school students.
One Haverhill High School student received a minor injury when brushing off pieces of glass that fell onto her and sustained a small cut on her knuckle, police said.
John Cuneo, director of Community Action Inc., which runs the Head Start program in Haverhill, said about 35 children ages 3 and 4 were riding the Coppola company bus involved in the morning shooting. Cuneo said there were four or five children seated close to the window that was shot at.
After the first incident was reported, police stepped up their patrols of school bus routes and were "actively looking" for a suspect, Pistone said.
He said a Coppola bus that was bringing students home from Haverhill High School was also fired at in the afternoon incident. Pistone said that in each case, the windows that were shot at were on the driver's side of the buses and hit windows next to children. Pistone said a BB was found on the bus carrying the high school students.
Haverhill police detectives John Moses and Carl Rogers are investigating both incidents. Pistone said that as of this afternoon, police increased patrols of bus routes and had officers riding on buses. He said extra patrols of bus routes will be in place tomorrow, along with officers riding on school buses.
"If this is some sort of prank, it's certainly a sick joke, a sick prank in light of what's happened," Pistone said in reference to last Friday's deadly shootings in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Watch eagletribune.com for updates. Tomorrow's Eagle-Tribune will have a full report.