CROWN POINT | Shots believed fired from a BB gun struck two school buses early Friday on 109th Avenue near the Interstate 65 overpass.
Children had not yet boarded either bus and the drivers were not injured, school and police officials said.
The BB shootings were the latest in a series of similar incidents reported since Christmas along rural stretches in Lake and Porter counties. Until Friday, no shooting in Lake County had been reported since Jan. 5.
The BB shots struck Friday as the buses headed eastbound on 109th Avenue just past I-65, one about three minutes ahead of the other, at about 6:45 a.m.
School officials, citing safety concerns, declined to give the bus numbers.
The shootings Friday occurred at nearly the same time and location as incidents on Jan. 4, when two Crown Point Community School Corp. buses were shot with BBs as they set out on their routes. Nobody was injured.
School officials had kept buses off of 109th Avenue since then, until Friday, personnel director John Williams said.
"This was our first day back," Williams said. Buses will be avoiding the area for the foreseeable future, he said.
In at least five other incidents in Lake County, cars were struck as they traveled 109th Avenue between the Porter County line and Crown Point city limits.
Police patrols of the area were beefed up in the wake of the shootings with added Crown Point and Lake County sheriff's police marked and unmarked cars and the sheriff department's helicopter.
Since the Jan. 5 incident in Lake County, in which a minivan window was shattered as the driver traveled westbound on 109th Avenue near Crown Point, most reports of BB damage had occurred in Porter County.
At least seven possible BB shootings in Porter County had been reported last weekend. All but one of those was in rural Porter Township, where police earlier had received more than two dozen vandalism and possible shooting complaints since December.
The most recent reports in Porter County involved damage to moving vehicles, mostly along Ind. 2 near Division Road. Many of the earlier vandalism reports in Porter County had been to parked vehicles.
A $1,000 reward leading to the capture of a suspect was posted in early January by Crown Point police, funded by an anonymous business person.
Someone armed with a high-powered BB or pellet gun is believed responsible. No suspects have been identified.
The shots Friday morning are believed to have come from the north side of 109th Avenue, Crown Point Assistant Police Chief Jim Janda said. The shots struck both buses on the driver's side windows, doing damage but not breaking out the windows.
It's not known whether the shots were fired from a moving vehicle or from a nearby field, Janda said.
In Porter County, several victims reported spotting a white pick-up truck around at the time of the shootings.