Gunman Opens Fire On School Board

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. — A live video feed captured a horrifying confrontation between school officials and an armed gunman who opened fire during a school board meeting in Panama City, Florida, Tuesday.

The gunman was wounded and subsequently took his own life, authorities said.

The suspect, identified as Clay Duke, 56, of Bay County, Florida, spray-painted a wall and then opened fire on the superintendent and school board members during the meeting, authorities said.

The gunman apparently missed each person he fired on, even though he was at close range, said Lee Stafford, director of student services of Bay District Schools.

The chief of security for the school board shot and wounded the man, who then fatally shot himself, said Ruth Corley, a spokeswoman for the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

The harrowing incident was captured by a live internal feed of the afternoon school board meeting.

CNN affiliate WMBB showed some of the confrontation, during which the gunman and a school leader discussed sales taxes and other issues after the gunman ordered other people out of the room.

At one point, the official said, “I don’t want anybody to get hurt. I’ve got a feeling that what you want, is you want the cops to come in and kill you because you are mad. Because you said you are going to die.”

“This isn’t worth it,” the official says. “This is a problem.”

The gunman then points the pistol at the official.

“Please don’t. Please don’t,” the official says.

At that point, the gunman opens fire on the official and school board members until he is brought down by a gunshot. He says, “I’m going to kill [unintelligible],” while he fired.

Investigators scrambled to understand what happened.

“We do know who he is, but cannot speak to any possible motive,” Corley said. “The detectives are still conducting interviews with witnesses.”

The man, who had a handgun, ordered people out of the room before confronting the board members who remained, Stafford told CNN.

“He started making some demands of the superintendent,” Stafford said, adding that the man then spay-painted a red circle with a “V” on a wall in the building. “We don’t know if that symbol has any meaning,” Stafford said.

According to Stafford, the man “rambled quite a bit. And he talked about a family member that had been fired with the school board, and then began talking about the half-cent sales tax, jumping from one topic to another. He did make the comment several times that he was going to die today.”

The man waved the gun and would not respond to those pleading with him to calm down, officials said.

The gunman fired at the superintendent and “then he very deliberately pointed the gun at other board members,” Stafford said, adding that the man fired live rounds, not blanks as some had called the shots. School board members hit the ground.

No one was was injured. It was not clear how many rounds were fired.

The Panama City News Herald reported that the gunman was taken out of the building on a stretcher. According to Panama City Police Chief John Van Etten, no one other than the suspect was injured, CNN affiliate WJHG said.

School board spokeswoman Karen Tucker said the man “was a large guy” she had seen sitting in the back of the boardroom earlier, according to the News Herald.

CNN affiliate WMBB reported children and parents were at the meeting to be recognized for achievements, but were gone before the incident began.

“We are absolutely in state of shock,” said Stafford. “I was in the third floor and we were watching the live feed, and first we thought it was a drill. But the more that you watched it, we realized this was an actual incident and emergency situation.”


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