Instead of getting on the bus early Wednesday, Clinard, who had reportedly been turned in to school officials recently by Gregory for using smokeless tobacco, is believed to have fatally shot her with a .45-caliber handgun.
None of the 24 students on the bus, ranging in ages from 5 to 17, were hurt.
Workers in the Stewart County schools transportation office heard a noise over the radio transmission before hearing Gregory's voice. ``Bus 22,'' she said before the radio went silent.
The shooting happened at about 6:15 a.m. on an unpaved rural road just outside Cumberland City, about 50 miles northwest of Nashville. Gregory, a 47-year-old married mother of two daughters, was picking up students and taking them to Dover Elementary and Stewart County High School.
Two weeks ago, Gregory told family members she was having trouble with students ``dipping snuff'' on the bus, according to her cousin, Jacqueline Reed. After several warnings, she reported them to school administrators Tuesday, Reed said, adding that the 14-year-old suspect was among the students.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said boy had not yet boarded the bus when the driver was shot. Police would not say where the boy got the weapon.
Officials gave few details about the shooting at a news conference, and while they acknowledged also hearing stories that the driver had disciplined the student, they would not comment on a motive for the shooting. They also refused to release the boy's name, but neighbors, schoolmates and Gregory's relatives identified him as Clinard.
District Attorney Dan Alsobrooks said the suspect was charged with first-degree murder in Juvenile Court and was being held without bond. He said the boy could face adult charges as the investigation continues.
Public defender Jack Lockert met with the boy for about 45 minutes.
``I would characterize him as being in shock,'' Lockert said. ``We obviously feel like he has severe mental issues. He's an A and B student and had never been in trouble before.''
Clinard was taken to a juvenile detention facility in Nashville and will undergo a psychiatric evaluation during the next 30 days.
TBI Director Mark Gwyn said he wasn't releasing much information because agents were still interviewing students.
``You must understand these are very delicate interviews,'' Gwyn said. ``These are young, young children. We're still in the process of conducting those interviews, and we're doing this as expeditiously as possible. We want to get this city back to normal as soon as possible.''
After the shooting, the bus crashed into a utility pole at the driveway of the student's home and knocked out power in the rural neighborhood. Phillip Wallace, director of Stewart County Schools, said a student on the bus ran to a nearby home and called authorities.
Some Stewart County buses are equipped with cameras, but Bus 22 did not have one on board.
A white sheet was draped across the front of the bus and door as authorities investigated the scene. A wrecker towed the bus away at noon.
Mitchell Kern lives about 50 feet from where the bus crashed and said he rode the same bus every day last year before graduating from Stewart County High School. He had also heard that the boy was in trouble for using smokeless tobacco.
``He was a good kid. Nobody seen this coming,'' Kern said.
``It's a very sad day in Stewart County,'' said Wallace. ``We've been in shock. We're very grieved to lose a very important part of our community.''
Gregory was a teacher's assistant for four or five years and had been a bus driver for the past two years, Wallace said.
``I lost a good friend this morning, so I'm hurt,'' said Bill Austin, a supervisor for Stewart County schools. ``We're trying to do our level best to get our kids through this. That's what we've got to do right now.''
An informal school safety survey released Wednesday by the National Association of School Resource Officers says more than one in three school-based police officers say violent incidents on school buses are on the rise.
Almost eight in 10 of the school-based officers took a weapon away from a student on school property during the last year, according to the survey of more than 750 officers