Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Florida School Board Shooting: Gunman Opens Fire During Meeting

A shooting at a school board meeting in Panama City, Florida Tuesday resulted in the apparent self-inflicted death of the gunman. The shooting occurred close to the end of the School Board meeting just after 2 pm EST. The gunman, Clay Duke, was in attendance for the meeting and stood up as it was wrapping up. He brandished a small-caliber gun and approached the school board members. After spray-painting a V in a circle on the wall with red paint, he began a rambling diatribe about his wife being terminated by the school board and about sales taxes. Duke allowed everyone to leave the room except for six men, including board superintendent, Bill Husfelt.

As Husfelt tried to reason with the shooter, he aimed the gun and fired towards the group.
Several news outlets are reporting that the gunman aimed directly at Husfelt and missed but video captured from a live internet screening of the meeting tells a different story. The video shows Duke slowly raising his arm and taking aim at the school superintendent. However, the actual shot hits the top of the desk after Duke lowers his aim slightly. The board members all duck under the podium at this point in time and Duke fires a second shot into the base of the podium. Gunfire is then heard off-camera and Duke spins around yelling "Ow". He then fires two rapid shots towards the source of the gunfire, later identified as Mike Jones, the school board's security chief. Jones fired again and Duke went down, having been shot in the knee. According to police, Duke then took his own life. The officially-released video ends before the suicide.

Clay Duke had an existing conviction for shooting in a 1999 confrontation with an ex-girlfriend. According to reports, Duke had stalked the woman for six months, then confronted her in front of her apartment building wearing a mask and carrying two weapons. As the woman tried to drive away, Duke shot out one of the rear tires.

The police investigation will continue today and an official police statement is expected this afternoon. There is no word yet if the school board will release a statement about the shooting.