When I saw this story about the Florida school board shooting yesterday, I got a chill, not just because the video was scary either. I used to cover school board meetings in other parts of the country and sometimes the people coming in to protest budget cuts or ask for school board backing on some project did seem wild-eyed occasionally, but not one seemed as disturbed as yesterday's gun-weilding shooter in Florida.
It was a life-threatening situation, but the potential shooting victims remained calm. Afterward, the school superintendent, William Husfelt, said in interviews that this is America and school board meetings are still safe. So, the district won't go overboard now with increased security measures at meetings.
The AP calls Clay Duke, 56, the "burly, bipolar man" in its lead about yesterda's shooting at the Bay District Schools board meeting in Panama City, Florida. (See series of videos below that tell parts of the story.) Using spray paint, Duke drew a red "V" within a circle on the meeting room wall, the image used in the movie V for Vendetta and the same image he posted to his Facebook page. He then said somebody was going to die as he objected to his wife, Rebecca Duke, being fired. (More on the V for Vendetta connection)
His wife had previously been employed as a school teacher for the district. She was dismissed in February after she failed to pass the probationary period. With her firing, the Duke family lost health benefits. He shot at the school board members, was shot at three times and hit in the knee by a district security officer, and then he shot himself in the head and died. Read the entire AP story here.
His wife had a press conference today and said her husband was a "gentle giant" and that "the economy and the world just got the better of him."
Her husband was an ex-convict, according to news sources, with a history of mental illness. Mrs. Duke said in a press conference that he never missed his medication. Based on reports about Clay Duke's fears that the world was ending ever since Y2K, his comments on his Facebook Page about government-sponsored media, and other fears about taxes, etc., that his wife seems to reference in video of her press conference, I'm guessing he had some kind of paranoid personality disorder in addition to bipolar disorder.
"My Testament: Some people (the government-sponsored media) will say I was evil, a monster (V) … no … I was just born poor in a country where the Wealthy manipulate, use, abuse, and economically enslave 95% of the population. Rich Republicans, Rich Democrats… same-same… rich… they take turns fleecing us… our few dollars… pyramiding the wealth for themselves. The 95%... the us, in US of A, are the neo slaves of the Global South. Our Masters, the Wealthy, do as they like to us…"(Leaving suicide notes on social media pages or actually killing oneself on YouTube. Remember Abraham Biggs? Is the way of our social media age?)
CNN's video, some from Florida affiliate WJHG, shows school board member Ginger Littleton attack Duke with her handbag/purse after the gunman began his speech saying everyone can leave but the "assholes" sitting at the desk. He threw her to the ground but did not shoot her.
Survivors are praising God. Superintenddent Husfelt told CBS News that "God blocked the bullet." Mrs. Duke says her husband was an excellent shot who probably missed on purpose.
The next video shows a Full view of school board members reactions.
School board members, including Husfelt, discuss the shooting in the following video. He says that Duke looked determined. From CNN's story:
"It was surreal," Husfelt told CNN's "American Morning." "He had already told us that he was going to die, he was prepared to die, and we were going to die as well. ... You could tell by the look in his eyes there was going to be some killing going on.Husfelt also commends Mike Jones, the retired police detective and district security guard who shot the gunman in the knee, and Littleton who tried to stop Duke with her handbag. He says, "She's like us even though she's a female."
Littleton says her three daughters asked her "Mom are you just stupid? What were you thinking?" She says she was thinking her fellow school board members were lined up like ducks and about to die.
Here is an interview with a witness who left when Duke told the audience to go.
And finally, here's CNN's later story with gunman saying, "Somebody is going to die."