Dramatic video emerged Wednesday showing a Florida man who burst into a school board meeting with a gun, shooting point blank at the board members before being shot by a security guard.
None of the board members in Panama City, Fla., were injured in the incident, which was captured by local television stations.
The video shows 56-year-old Clay Duke, an ex-convict, walking into the meeting and scrawling the symbol from the film V for Vendetta on the school board wall before pulling out a 9-mm Smith & Wesson handgun. He then ordered all the women and non-board members out of the room.
Board member Ginger Littleton returned and tried to disarm Duke by hitting him in the arm with her purse. Instead, Duke put her on the ground.
Duke then turned to the five remaining board members sitting at the desk and announced: "I'm going to die today."
He talked about how his wife had been laid off from her teaching job and how their benefits had run out.
One board member pleaded with Duke, talking about his own family and saying he wanted to help him.
"Please just talk to us," he told Duke. "If I can help you get your wife a job somewhere else, I'll be glad to do that."
'I'm the one'
The school superintendent, Bill Husfelt, also pleaded with Duke and tried to take responsibility for Duke's wife's employment plight.
"I’m the one that signed the paper, right? OK. Don’t remember and I don’t know who she is, but let them go. I’m the one that did it.
"Will you let them go? You're obviously upset at me. So why are they here?"
Duke said the other members were part of the "scam."
As Husfelt continued to talk, Duke raised the gun and pointed it at Husfelt.
"Please don't, please don't, please." Husfelt said, at which point Duke fired.
He shot twice at Husfelt and fired off several more rounds before district security chief Mike Jones, a former police officer, bolted in.
Police said Wednesday the pair exchanged at least 14 shots, with Jones hitting Duke four times, felling him. Duke then shot himself fatally in the head. Police said he had at least 25 more rounds of ammunition.
"It could have been a monumental tragedy," Husfelt later said. "God was standing in front of me and I will go to my grave believing that."
Littleton joked during a Wednesday press conference that her three daughters asked, "'Are you just stupid? What were you thinking?' I don't have an answer for that."
"I don't think anything was going through my mind, except for the fact that these guys were sitting ducks," she said. "They were lined up like pigeons on a wire and I couldn't leave them."
Duke's wife said her husband was an excellent marksman and he probably missed the board members on purpose.
"He didn't want anyone to get hurt but himself," Rebecca Duke said. "The economy and the world just got the better of him."
Duke had a troubled history. In 2000, he was convicted for waiting in the woods for his ex-wife with a rifle, wearing a mask and a bulletproof vest. She confronted him, then tried to leave in a vehicle, and Duke shot the tires.
"He was competent but he was one of those people who had a mood disorder, where they could be depressed one day and all excited another day. I just remember the doctor saying he had a personality disorder," Ben Bollinger, his lawyer on that case, recalled.