BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island school bus driver was being called a hero Friday night, after keeping her students being safe by evacuating them when police said a violent man boarded the bus.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, ninth graders from the Freshman Center in Brentwood were appreciative that they were kept safe.

“We were so grateful we had a bus driver like her,” said student Sarahi Guaman.

Police said a deranged man tried to enter the school bus forcefully at Hemlock Lane and Brightshore Boulevard, confronting the courageous driver.

“We were all just scared and we listened to what she had to say,” said student Chantel Hightower.

“It was terrifying,” added Guaman. “You know, like, you never really think it’s going to happen until it does.”

CBS2’s McLogan spoke by phone with the heroic driver.

“I immediately looked up in my overhead mirror, and I looked at my students, and I told them to get off the bus — get out the back door; any emergency door,” she said. “With that he started to charge through the stairs and through the seats.”

The driver described how one valiant male student refused to leave her side when a tussle broke out. She had already called police, who arrived in minutes to capture the interloper.

The school community was informed of the incident via letters and email. Now, many are voicing praise on social media for the young boy and the quick-thinking driver.

“Very difficult situation that unfolded in the morning, and the driver took a very heroic situation, and utilized her training,” said Thomas Smith of Suffolk Transportation Services.

The 29-year-old suspect appeared psychotic and violent. Families were left unnerved, as they are in the midst of rebounding following numerous gang-related deaths and arrests in the community.

“We’ve had some challenges in the past, but this is the perfect opportunity for the Brentwood School District certainly to celebrate the bravery of this school bus driver,” said Brentwood Union Free School District spokesman Felix Adeyeye.

The suspect continued threatening police, they said, as they brought him to Northwell Health Southside Hospital in Bay Shore for medical and psychiatric evaluation.

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