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Man charged with shooting, wounding school bus driver on Minneapolis interstate appears in court

Libor Jany, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in News & Features

MINNEAPOLIS -- The man charged with shooting through the window of a school bus and wounding the 78-year-old driver on a busy Minneapolis interstate this week made his first court appearance Friday, where he was ordered to surrender his permit to carry a firearm and must stay away from guns and ammunition.

Kenneth Lilly, 31, of St. Paul, faces charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon in connection with the Tuesday shooting on I-35W south of downtown Minneapolis. An 8-year-old passenger on the bus was not hurt. Lilly, who was arrested immediately afterward, told investigators he fired at the stopped bus after a fender-bender during a snowstorm traffic jam out of fear for his safety, the charges said.

Lilly posted $500,000 bond and was released from jail the night before he made his first appearance in Hennepin County District Court alongside his attorneys. Judge Peter Cahill ordered that he surrender his permit to carry, stay away from the alleged victim and doesn't possess guns or ammunition. His next court date is set for March 8.

After the hearing, Lilly stood silently alongside his attorney, Thomas Plunkett, who called the shooting "a complicated case."

"More information will be coming out about the case," he said. "We appreciate that you give us and Mr. Lilly the opportunity to complete our investigation so that we can do a fair job for everyone." He declined to take questions or comment further.

According to charges, the bus driver was shot while behind the wheel about 2:15 p.m. after he was trying to merge onto the interstate and collided with Lilly's car. The driver said he was unaware of the collision, but state troopers did see paint from the bus on Lilly's vehicle.

Lilly soon stopped on the interstate and walked toward the bus that was stopped behind him. He shouted at the driver while trying to get onboard. The driver refused because there was a child on the bus.

As Lilly walked toward the driver's side corner of the bus, the driver appeared to be trying to slowly pull into traffic, the complaint said. Traffic camera video showed Lilly walking to the front of the bus and "retreating to a safe spot" before shooting.

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The gunfire grazed the driver in the head and wounded him in his left arm, according to the charges. Authorities would not reveal how close the shots came to hitting the girl.

The driver was "alert and conscious" when taken by emergency medical personnel from the scene ahead of surgery at HCMC for his injuries.

"The safety of the kids on my bus are my first priority, and I care for them as if they were my own grandkids," he said in a statement Thursday. "I'm so thankful no one else was hurt.

While the criminal complaint points out that Lilly was in a security guard's uniform, it is unclear where Lilly is employed. He does not appear to have a criminal record in Minnesota beyond minor traffic violations.

(c)2019 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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