LOWER GWYNEDD TOWNSHIP, PA (Gray News) - Students at a Pennsylvania high school knew something was wrong when they saw Dominic Herder get on the bus Friday morning.
They’d never seen him before.
When the bus got to the school, a student informed the school resource officer about the unknown passenger, but by that time, Herder had made his way inside Wissahickon Senior High School.
The officer found him inside the gym and approached him with school administrators. Police said he bolted from the school and led them on a foot chase into the parking lot of the condominiums across the street.
Police arrested the 20-year-old, who told them he’d spent the night partying and drinking. He told them he boarded the bus because he believed it would take him closer to his home.
He faces several misdemeanor charges, including public drunkenness and trespassing. Investigators determined he never meant anyone any harm.
“I apologize. I was being stupid and not thinking. I do apologize to everybody and their family and their parents for scaring everybody. There’s no harm meant,” Herder told WPVI after his first court appearance Friday.
Herder admitted to having a serious drinking problem. His bail was set at $5,000 unsecured and he will remain out of jail so long as he complies with the bail requirements, which includes treatment for his drinking problem.
He’s due back in court on April 2.
School officials said Herder made it on to the bus because he looked just like any other high school student.
“Bus drivers are instructed to watch oncoming traffic while students are boarding, to ensure vehicles obey crosswalk and flashing light rules. This does not obviate the fact that he should have never been allowed to board a bus-it just explains how it happened,” the school district said in a statement.
He made it undetected into the school because he entered with a crowd of students. He simply blended into the mob.
Even so, sophomore Sasha Jason saw him and knew something was off. She said he was “rapping a song or something.”
The school district outlined plans to make sure this doesn’t happen again, which could include a bus pass system or an ID/swipe system.
“We do not want to over-react to an isolated situation, but we also want to learn from this and implement any changes to procedures that may make sense. If any changes are recommended, they will be communicated to the entire WHS community promptly and comprehensively,” the district’s statement concluded.