By Miriam Raftery
January 30, 2018 (Campo) – A knife-wielding man who punched a Campo Elementary School bus driver in the face on May 25, 2018 has been sentenced to a year in jail, with part of his sentence slated to be served in a drug rehabilitation facility.
A grandmother at the bus stop tackled the suspect, who shouted that he feared a drug cartel was going to injure his children who were on board. He did not threaten any of the children, according to the prosecutor.
Parents helped all 23 children on board the bus escape out a back entrance during the bizarre incident.
Matthew Douglas Barker, 37, of Campo pled guilty to assaulting the bus driver and to child endangerment. More serious charges were dropped, since the judge found no evidence of attempted kidnapping or carjacking the bus.
Barker admitted to taking methamphetamines that caused him to become delusional. His wife had died in leukemia the prior year, leaving him to care for his two young children.
Barker apologized to the victims, stating, “I really can’t imagine what I put them through,” adding, “I’m a good man.”
Judge Robert Amador showed compassion toward Barker, suspending a six-year prison term provided he attends a parenting course, a long-term grief counseling session and drug rehab program and does not violate terms of his probation, the Alpine Sun Reports.
The Judge noted that the defendant had not received adequate mental healthcare, but cautioned Barker that he’ll need to “stay on the straight and narrow” in the future.
Judge Amador hailed 78-year-old bus driver Harold Brandt as a “hero” who risked his life to protect the children.
Barker’s parents currently have custody of his children and wil continue to care for them, but Barker will be able to see his children as he continues in a long-term drug rehab program.