Heroes act to save others as gunman shoots up school board meeting
10/14/2016 12:49 pm PDT
It's five of the most dramatic minutes of video you will ever see: An ordinary school board meeting descends into chaos when a crazed man walks into the room, pulls out a gun and threatens shoot everyone, including himself. The entire incident was captured on video.
It's a school shooting of a very different type. No students are involved. It's not on campus. Instead, it's the quiet headquarters of the Bay District Schools in Panama City, Florida that would erupt in gunfire.
Ginger Littleton and Jerry Register are senior members of the school board. On the afternoon of December 14, 2010, they're balancing the books and planning the school year. Presiding over the meeting was Superintendent Bill Husfelt. He's a former school principal, a devoted grandfather and head of the school board.
Clay Duke, a 56-year-old ex-convict, self-styled revolutionary and conspiracy zealot served five years for stalking and threatening to kill his ex-wife and shooting out her tires. He walks into the school board meeting and begins spray-painting a symbol on one of the walls in the room -- a logo from the movie V For Vendetta. He's carrying a 9-mm semiautomatic handgun.
Duke growls out orders to women and spectators in the room to leave.
Ginger Little won't go down without a fight. She comes up behind Duke and hits him with her purse, which doesn't affect him. The crazed gunman has a moment of mercy and spares her life, letting her leave.
Now Duke takes the floor, and explains the motive behind his madness. Duke claims his wife was laid off from her job as a teacher and the school board is to blame. Now the desperate, unhinged man is here to exact revenge.
Then, an act of bravery that stuns Bill Husfelt's colleagues: The superintendent makes a heart-wrenching sacrifice.
The deranged gunman takes aim at Husfelt, and his finger is twitching on the trigger.
But there's a surprise waiting for Duke right outside the board room door. Chief of school security Mike Jones, a cop with 20 years of experience, stands at the ready, locked and loaded and praying he won't have to open fire.
Duke, pointing the gun in front of him at Bill Husfelt, pulls the trigger. Duke fires again. And Mike Jones strikes back.
The madman goes down to the floor, but he continues firing into the air. Then he puts the gun to his own head and pulls the trigger.
When the smoke clears, Clay Duke is dead. His revolution ended by a self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
But Mike Jones doesn't know who else is dead or alive.
Then a shocker: The first to raise his head is the one nobody expected to survive.
Those hollow-point bullets, designed to expand and rip through their target, hit a notebook in front of Husfelt, stopping the bullet. He's not hit.
No one else is injured. The only shot Duke fired that hit its target is the one Duke saved for himself.
Mike Jones earns several commendations for his courage and quick thinking, including the congressional medal of bravery. But Jones says there were plenty of heroes that day.
"I offered that medal, half of it to the superintendent, because the superintendent said 'I'm the one that fired her, let them go,'" said Jones. "That's a hero. He had no weapon like I did. He calls me his hero -- I call the superintendent my hero."
Since the shooting, Clay Duke's wife has broken her silence, telling the media her husband was an "excellent marksman," and she believes he intentionally missed the school board members because didn't want to hurt anyone but himself.
The incident gained so much notoriety in Florida that a week after the shootings, the purse that Ginger Littleton used to hit Duke sold on an online auction site for $13,000, with the proceeds going to charity.