VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia Beach school bus driver has been fired and is facing five counts of possession of child pornography as well as one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and one count of purchasing tobacco for a minor.
WAVY News 10 spoke with Macie Allen with the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office Friday, who confirmed her office is pursuing the Class 6 felony charges against 31-year-old Michael Gunther, which were handed down to him Oct. 5.
He is being held on a no bond status and has a bond hearing scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 12.
10 On Your Side originally started looking into accusations against Gunther after discovering a search warrant affidavit in Circuit Court. According to that document, the parent of a Virginia Beach student found their child unconscious on Sept. 4, with signs of drug use. The student was rushed to the hospital because the parent suspected they had ingested fentanyl (the student told them it was “shrooms,”) the court document states.
When the parent went through the child’s phone, they reportedly uncovered text messages with a “Mr. Mike” that included conversations about providing the student and others with alcohol and nicotine vapes.
Police were able to match the number from the texts with that of Michael Gunther, the driver of Bus 353.
According to court documents, Gunther has been employed by Virginia Beach City Public Schools since 2018.
The VBPD investigation led to the arrest of Gunther Oct. 5 on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and purchasing tobacco for a minor.
As part of their investigation, VBPD searched Gunther’s house after obtaining a search warrant. Additional evidence obtained resulted in Gunther being charged with five counts of possession of obscene material of a minor, VBPD said.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools sent this message out following an inquiry by 10 On Your Side:
We want to make you aware that a bus driver was arrested today by the Virginia Beach Police Department for alleged misconduct. You may hear about this in the media, however, at this time we are not part of the criminal proceedings and as such do not have additional information. All staff are expected to adhere to the highest ethical practices and conduct aligned with our core values and we will not tolerate behaviors that compromise the safety of our children. Know that the staff member is no longer employed with VBCPS. Please be assured that we are committed to providing a safe and nurturing learning environment for our students. We appreciate your continued support.
Gunther has an arraignment scheduled in Virginia Beach General District Court Friday afternoon. WAVY News 10’s Ashley Knight will be at the hearing. Look for her coverage beginning at 4 p.m.