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School board gunman had Dec. 14 marked on calendar
Associated Press
2010-12-16 02:46 AM
The ex-convict who calmly held a school board at gunpoint and then began randomly firing had circled the date on a calendar found in his mobile home, evidence he had been planning the attack for some time, police said.

Bay District officials also confirmed Wednesday that Clay A. Duke's wife had been fired earlier this year from her job teaching special education. Video of Tuesday's meeting showed Duke, 56, complaining about taxes and his wife being fired before shooting at close range as the superintendent begged, "Please don't."

The shooting was not "a spur of the moment thing," Panama City Police Chief John Van Etten told The Associated Press. Police also found anti-government paraphernalia at Duke's home, but the chief didn't provide details.

Video shows Duke rising from his seat, spray-painting a red V on the wall, then waving a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun and ordering everyone to leave the room except the men on the board. They dove under the long desk they had been sitting behind as he fired at them.

Duke rambled to the board about tax increases and his wife, but also apparently created a Facebook page last week that refers to class warfare and is laced with images from the movie "V for Vendetta," in which a mysterious figure battles a totalitarian government.

The school board was in the midst of a routine discussion when Duke walked to the front of the room.

"We could tell by the look in his eyes that this wasn't going to end well," Superintendent Bill Husfelt told the AP.

Husfelt was calm as he tried to persuade Duke to drop the gun, but Duke just shook his head. The only woman on the board, Ginger Littleton, had been ordered out of the room too, but she sneaked back in behind him and whacked his gun arm with her large brown purse.

"In my mind, that was the last attempt or opportunity to divert him," Littleton said.

Duke, a large, heavyset man in a dark pullover coat got angry and turned around. She fell to the floor as board members pleaded with her to stop. Duke pointed the gun at her head but he didn't shoot her. She's not sure why.

After several minutes, video showed Duke slowly raising the gun and leveling it at Husfelt, who pleaded "Please don't, please don't."

Duke shot twice at Husfelt from about 8 feet (2 1/2 meters) away and squeezed 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.

Somehow, no one else in the small board room was injured in the clash that lasted several minutes. Husfelt said at least two rounds lodged in the wall behind him.

In Duke's brief exchange with the board, he said his wife had been fired from the northern Florida district, but never told Husfelt or the board who she was or what she did.

Duke's wife was apparently living with her mother in nearby Lynn Haven. It wasn't clear how long they were living apart, the chief said.

Tommye Lou Richardson, the district's personnel director, said Rebecca Crowder-Duke was fired from her job as a teacher in February. She had been hired in September 2009 as a primary school teacher for students with special needs but didn't pass her probation. She wasn't able to go into further detail on the reasons.

On a Facebook page under his name, the only dated entries are from Dec. 7 and 8. The page shows a cryptic message in the "About Me" section.

"My testament: Some people (the government sponsored media) will say I was evil, a monster (V) ... no ... I was just born poor in a country where the Wealthy manipulate, use, abuse, and economically enslave 95 percent of the population. Rich Republicans, Rich Democrats ... same-same ... rich ... they take turns fleecing us ... our few dollars ... pyramiding the wealth for themselves."

His Facebook profile picture is the red V symbol he spray-painted on the wall during the meeting, and his page includes photos from the film version "V for Vendetta," which was also a graphic novel.

He quotes billionaire Warren Buffett, who told the New York Times in 2006: "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class that's making war and we're winning."

Duke was charged in October 1999 with aggravated stalking, shooting or throwing a missile into a building or vehicle and obstructing justice, according to state records. He was convicted and sentenced in January 2000 to five years in prison and was released in January 2004.

Attorney Ben Bollinger, who represented Duke during his trial, said Duke was waiting in the woods for his girlfriend with a rifle, wearing a mask and a bulletproof vest. She confronted him and then tried to leave in a vehicle, and Duke shot the tires.

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