Sniper fires at school bus, killing 14-year-old student

January 06, 1991|By Boston Globe

BOURNE, Mass. -- A 14-year-old New Bedford, Mass., girl, riding in a school bus to a school basketball match with her teammates and her mother, was killed yesterday on Route 25 by a sniper's bullet that tore through the side of the bus and through her heart.

Robin Dabrowski, a player on the girls' freshman basketball team at New Bedford High School, apparently died instantly following the 9:20 a.m. attack, state police said.

"We heard an explosion like a rocket hitting the side of the bus, then Robin stood up, grasped her chest and keeled over," said bus driver Elmer Wassall, 65, of New Bedford.

Approximately 12 of Robin's teammates, her mother, Joanne, who was acting as a chaperon, the team coach and an unidentified adult were on the bus when the shooting occurred.

State police troopers, using dogs and helicopters, launched a massive search for the sniper, flooding a wooded area alongside Route 25 near the Plymouth-Bourne line. No arrests had been made as of last night.

A second team member, 14-year-old Susan Arruda, suffered a slight neck wound after the fatal bullet apparently passed through Robin's body and struck Susan, police said.

Several minutes after killing Robin, the sniper shot out the rear window of a Mercedes driven by a Rhode Island teacher, police said. The teacher, who was on his way to visit his parents in Chatham, was not injured.

"An explosion occurred in the back of my car, and I assumed it was my window shattering from the temperature change or something like that," said Lance Magnusen, 32, of West Kingston, R.I., a science teacher at West Warwick Junior High School.

Robert Dabrowski, the victim's father, said: "I'm in shock, and my wife is out of it. I can't believe it happened. She was such a good girl. I can't believe that somebody could take my only child away."

State police Capt. Donald Cody, commander of Troop D, said, "We have some good ballistics information" that may help lead investigators to a suspect. Captain Cody said it appeared the shots were fired from a .30-caliber weapon, most likely a carbine or possibly a handgun. Both bullets were recovered.

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