It was a routine meeting of the Bay School District school board in Panama City, Florida until it was time for citizens to bring up issues to the board. A 56 year-old man named Clay Duke sat through the meeting then approached the front of the room. He spray painted a red V with a circle around it on the front wall, pulled out a 9-millimeter handgun, and ordered everyone out of the room except for six men.
A live internet video feed captured what happened next. Ginger Littleton, a board member, attempted to disarm the man with her handbag, but failed. Duke did not use his weapon on her, and allowed her to leave. Superintendent Bill Husfelt attempted to reason with Duke and Duke began to voice his complaints, including the recent firing of his wife and sales taxes.
The six men were defenseless and attempted to buy time. Husfelt admitted he most likely signed the termination papers and discussed the possibility of finding his wife a new job. Husfelt then attempted to get Duke to release the other men. He 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. But why? This isn’t worth it.”
Duke then pointed his weapon at Husfelt and began firing. The men scattered and hit the floor. Thankfully, none of Duke’s shots found their marks. A security officer and retired police officer, Mike Jones, arrived in the room after Duke fired the first shot. Jones fired on Duke, wounding him. Duke took his own life shortly thereafter. No other people were wounded.
Mike Jones’ actions are an excellent example of heroism in saving the lives of others and an excellent example of the defense of justification or necessity. Normally shooting another person is a serious offense and can lead to homicide, attempted murder or assault charges. However, when a person shoots or harms another person in self-defense or to prevent serious harm to another person, the use of violence is excused. Under the laws of Pennsylvania, all 50 states and most of the countries around the world, a person defending himself or others from physical harm is a defense to homicide or assault charges.
Source: CNN.com, “Florida school board members recount meeting horror,” 12/15/2010