Yazoo athlete praised for ‘heroic act’
by Chris Joyner, Clarion Ledger
Yazoo County Sheriff Tommy Vaughan knew how it ended, but he said there still was plenty of drama in watching the school bus security tape.
At 6:53 a.m. Tuesday, a 14-year-old girl boarded the bus and walked better than halfway toward the back. She reached into a flower-print bag and pulled out a chrome-plated .380-caliber semi-automatic handgun and began shouting and threatening the other students.
“She was using some hard words,” Vaughan said. “She was saying somebody on the bus was either messing with her or picking on her.”
Then, Yazoo County High School football player Kaleb Eulls approached the girl, Vaughan said.
“He kept telling her, ‘Put the gun down; put the gun down.’ ”
Then Eulls, 18, did what made him highly recruited as a defensive end – he tackled her. Vaughan said the students both went down, and a second later, Eulls’ right hand shot back into view holding the weapon.
“If it hadn’t been for this star football player, things could have been different,” Vaughan said. “He didn’t go overboard, but he did exactly what it took to get her on the ground.”
Eulls said he was asleep when the girl boarded the bus. When she pulled out the gun, one of Eulls’ three younger sisters, who were among the 22 people on the bus, shook him awake, he said.
Meanwhile, the girl demanded that the driver pull the bus over.
Eulls said he tried to get the girl’s attention.
“I kept my distance for a second, she kind of glanced away or blinked and I got to her,” he said.
“I just basically thought about all the lives that were in danger,” Eulls said. “It all happened in about five minutes. I’m thankful that it turned out the way it did.”
Ora Eulls, Kaleb’s mother, still had not talked to her son early Tuesday evening. Even heroes have to go to football practice. She said she first heard about the incident from her daughter.
Kaleb Eulls said his mother was relieved when he finally got home Tuesday night. “She said, ‘You’re everybody’s hero.’ ”
Vaughan said the incident occurred in the Linwood Road area, a rural part of the county that is miles from help. Many of the students were elementary age.
The sheriff said Eulls showed admirable selflessness in a dangerous situation.
“He made the statement to one of my deputies that if she was going to shoot anyone, he would rather she shoot him,” Vaughan said. “Watching him do that and him doing such a heroic act and not even caring about his own safety, that’s something you don’t see every day.”
Vaughan said the girl was arrested on 22 counts of attempted aggravated assault, 22 counts of kidnapping and one count of possession of a firearm on school property. She was transported to the county juvenile detention facility, he said.
Vaughan described the girl’s alleged actions as “stupid” and said he wanted to know more about the gun, which he described as an inexpensive model prone to firing accidentally.
“I’m interested in talking to her parents to find out where did she get this gun. If she got it from home, why was it not secured?” he said.
Yazoo County High Principal Billy Ray Harber would not comment on the specifics of the incident but praised Eulls and the bus driver. “They did a great job,” he said.
Eulls, a 6-foot 4-inch, 255-pound senior, also plays quarterback for Yazoo County and was a Dandy Dozen pick this year by The Clarion-Ledger. He has committed to Mississippi State University.