CONEWANGO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Authorities are now saying that they have identified the responsible party who fired a round that struck a Randolph Central School bus on Monday.
It happened in Cattaraugus County, an area that sees a lot of hunting. State Police say the bullet that ripped through the bus carrying 35 students came from a rifle. With shotgun season over, these days hunters are using high-powered rifles.
Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb said, "On the right angle, the right trajectory, a rifle round could go two to three miles."
Sheriff Whitcomb, an avid hunter, recently snagged a deer using a high-powered rifle. He says hunters need to know where you can and cannot go.
"Certainly you cannot hunt within 500 feet, you can't even shoot a weapon within 500 feet of any kind of a dwelling, a business. You have to be aware of private land. You have to be aware of houses and camps, and where they're located," noted Sheriff Whitcomb.
He adds people should not be hunting in areas they have not checked out in advance by walking the terrain. With rifles in play, he says, now more than ever hunters need to really be aware of their surroundings.
Sheriff Whitcomb said, "If you miss your target or if you go through your target, you need to be even more confident of what your background is. Because if it's a clean miss, and it doesn't hit the tree, in theory, depending on the angle and the territory that's behind where you're shooting, that rounds could travel hundreds of yards."
In the case of the Randolph school bus, fortunately no one was hurt, but it could have gone the other way. State Police say the rifle round actually entered the side doorway and traveled through the passenger compartment, lodging in the metal roof behind the driver.
"Each and every incident that involves a house getting hit, a car getting hit or a person getting hit, has its own independent variables that need to be uniquely examined," explained Sheriff Whitcomb.
While the incident happened in Cattaraugus County, the case is being investigated by the State Police and state Department of Environmental Conservation police. We're expecting to learn more at a news conference scheduled for Wednesday morning.
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