Former CFL champion helps stop gun-wielding woman at Florida high school

"I don't see myself as any kind of hero," says Grey Cup-winning teacher Lin-J Shell.

'I don't see myself as any kind of hero,' says Lin-J Shell, who won a Grey Cup with the Calgary Stampeders

Lin-J Shell, pictured here with the B.C. Lions in 2012, is being hailed as a hero for helping stop a woman with a gun at the Florida high school where he works as a phys-ed teacher. (Andy Clark/Reuters)
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A former Grey Cup-winning CFL star says his career in football helped him think on his feet and take down a gun-wielding woman at a Florida high school.

"Football definitely played a big role in just being able to respond and think under pressure," Lindsell Shell, Jr. — better known as Lin-J Shell — told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

Shell won a Grey Cup with the Calgary Stampeders in 2014. He also played for the B.C. Lions, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Toronto Argonauts.

He now works as a phys-ed teacher at Jean Ribault High School in Jacksonville, Fla., where a brawl broke out in the gym on Wednesday.

'Please don't shoot our kids'

What began as a planned fight between two students turned into a melee involving dozens of people, after several non-student trespassers showed up on campus and got involved.

"There were five fights going on, and I was trying to jump from fight to fight to try to minimize the damage," Shell said. 

In footage posted on social media, Shell can be seen pulling students apart.

Warning: The following video from Instagram contains violence and strong language. 

Among the trespassers was an adult woman. 

Shell said he noticed that she was holding her handbag in front of her hand, so he got behind her for a better look. That's when he saw she was holding a pistol.

"If the gun goes off, it could hit a kid directly, or it could bounce off the floor and hit a kid," Shell said. "All the children were so close. So anything with that firearm going off would have been devastating."

The former footballer said he approached her from behind, grabbed her wrist and pointed it downward so the gun was facing away from the kids. 

"I locked my hand around the back of her elbow," he said.

"I just kind of forced her back out of the front doors ... and basically just kept saying, 'Please don't shoot our kids. Don't shoot the kids. Do not shoot the kids. Don't pull the trigger.'"

Adrenalin rush 

He wrangled her outside the building, where one of the school's armed resource officers arrived and disarmed and arrested her, he said. 

According to a police report from the Jackson's County Sheriff's Office, a 43-year-old woman has been charged with possession of a firearm on school property.

She is the aunt of one of the students involved in the fight, News4Jax.com reports.

Chad Owens of the Toronto Argonauts is brought down by Lin-J Shell of the Calgary Stampeders in a CFL game at Rogers Centre on July 12, 2014, in Toronto. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Shell credits his time on the field for enabling him to spot the firearm and respond quickly.

"When you're an athlete, when situations get out of control really quick, they tend to slow down," he said. "With the adrenalin going and everything, it kind of slows down and it allows you to think."

In a statement issued to News4Jax, Duval County Public Schools said it was "thankful" that students and staff are safe and that it would increase security measures at the school. 

"Violence on our campuses is unacceptable," the school board said. "Please know that we take all threats to the security of our campuses seriously."

 'I don't see myself as any kind of hero'

Shell, meanwhile, has been thinking about what happened, and trying to help his students do the same.

The school is about 500 kilometres from Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed in a school shooting in February.

"Sitting back and actually thinking about the fact that a child could have been shot, or, you know, just thinking all of the other situations where people have been shot in schools, it actually kind of brought it to reality," Shell said.

"That situation really could have gotten out of hand really fast and someone could have lost their life."

Still, he insists he didn't do anything out of the ordinary.

 "I don't see myself as any kind of hero. If my son was in that situation, I would hope that someone would be, you know, smart enough or brave enough to go ahead and just try to neutralize the situation," he said.

"So I don't think I did anything any different than any other person would do."

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Lin-J Shell produced by Katie Geleff

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