Pasco police detail deadly attack on school bus driver; no motive known

PASCO, Wash. — The Pasco Police Department announced Monday that Joshua D. Davis, 34, of Richland, is the suspect involved in the deadly stabbing of a bus driver who was getting ready to transport students from Longfellow Elementary School.

Officials said Davis was arrested at the scene last Friday and is booked into Franklin County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder.

Davis is accused of attacking 72-year-old Richard Lenhart multiple times in front of 35 students after approaching the bus as it was parked outside Longfellow Elementary. The assault was recorded on security video, police said.

“Mr. Lenhart was stabbed repeatedly with a knife by Mr. Davis during this attack which occurred on the school bus,” said Pasco PD Chief Ken Roske in a news conference Monday. “The bus was on 9th in view of witnesses at the school.”

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Pasco bus driver stabbed, killed with Longfellow Elementary students onboard

“The bus driver opened the doors, presumably to see what the man wanted, and the man stepped in, empty-handed, to ask if the bus went to Road 100,” Pasco PD wrote in a statement. “On an active street in the middle of the afternoon, in view of others, opening the door to see what the man wanted would not normally be considered a risky action.”

“Once the driver told the man that it does not go to Road 100, the man turned to leave, then appeared to arm himself with a knife, turn, and suddenly attack the driver, who was still belted into his seat. The attack and the driver’s struggle caused the driver’s foot to come off the brake. The bus lurched forward over a curb line and a sign, stopping when it hit some landscaping and a tree. The suspect stopped the attack and jumped off the moving bus as it approached the tree.

“The suspect did not need transportation to Road 100. Davis had driven to the scene in a private vehicle, had parked nearby, and approached the area of the school on foot. After the attack, he had headed back toward that vehicle, but then returned to be within sight of the scene as officers were arriving. He was quickly pointed out and was arrested without incident.”

No students were injured. Lenhart died at the hospital, but was responsive at the scene and “was aware that the children left in his charge were safe and being cared for after the attack.”

Pasco School District No. 1 is offering counseling and care to Longfellow students and others within the school district.

Police do not know if Davis knew Lenhart: “Investigators are currently unaware of any connection between the victim and the attacker, but they are persisting with efforts to uncover background information,” according to the Pasco PD statement.

Davis did have previous contact with law enforcement, police said: “Most recently, in 2019, he had been referred to resources and transported to a medical facility after a Pasco officer and one of our Mobile Outreach Team, MHP’s, checked on his welfare.”

Police added that Davis lives in Richland and is not homeless or living on the streets as rumored on social media. His home and car have been searched for evidence.

“We are learning a lot about this tragedy and our detectives are following up on a lot of leads.

Pasco PD stressed that its investigators are working hard to figure out why the suspect attacked but they just don’t know why at this point in the investigation.

“We all want to know why this occurred,” said Pasco Police Chief Ken Roske. “As of right now, I don’t have an answer as to why it occurred.”

If you know something that may help the investigation, Pasco police want you to call (509) 628-0333 or email Detective Julie Lee at leej@pasco-wa.gov about case 21-28540 Homicide.

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