Florida: With news cameras rolling, a 56-year-old gunman entered a school board meeting in Florida on Tuesday and took several members of the board hostage, then fatally shot himself during a shootout with a security guard.
The episode was captured on video and broadcast on WMBB.com News 13 in Panama City, which ran several clips of the incident, including one in which the gunman fires a shot at a board member.
One extended clip shows the man, identified as Clay A. Duke, calmly walk up to a podium at the front of the room with a pistol after painting a mysterious red encircled "V" on the wall.
As people watched in shock and panic, the man ordered everyone to exit the room "except these clowns behind the counter here," gesturing to several members of the board. He then engaged in an argument with board members, complaining that the school board "fired my wife," later saying, "We're broke." After the board members tried to talk him down - engaging in a discussion about local taxes - he then opened fire on the superintendent, Bill Husfelt, but missed.
Moments later, a security guard entered the room and engaged in a shootout with Mr. Duke, hitting him at least once. Wounded, Mr. Duke turned the gun on himself and took his own life, the police said.
Ginger Littleton, a school board member, told The Associated Press that as the man held his gun out she tried to create a diversion by striking him with her purse, an encounter also captured on the video. Ms. Littleton said she fell to the ground and the gunman turned and aimed at her, but didn't pull the trigger.
According to Florida state prison records, Mr. Duke has an extensive criminal record. He was charged in 1999 with aggravated stalking, shooting or throwing a missile into a building or vehicle, and obstructing justice. He was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison on each charge, and was later placed under community supervision.
Story first published:
December 15, 2010 11:41 IST