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US shooter's wife says husband 'misunderstood'

 This photo provided by the Florida Dept. of Corrections shows Clay Duke. (AP Photo/Florida Dept of Corrections)
 In this image taken from video and released by WJHG-TV, Clay A. Duke observes the room where he points a hand gun at Bay City school board members an...
 In this image taken from video and released by WJHG-TV, Clay A. Duke points a hand gun at Bay City school board members and staff, Tuesday, Dec. 14, ...

School Board Shooting

This photo provided by the Florida Dept. of Corrections shows Clay Duke. (AP Photo/Florida Dept of Corrections)

School Board Shooting

In this image taken from video and released by WJHG-TV, Clay A. Duke observes the room where he points a hand gun at Bay City school board members an...

School Board Shooting

In this image taken from video and released by WJHG-TV, Clay A. Duke points a hand gun at Bay City school board members and staff, Tuesday, Dec. 14, ...

The wife of the man who held a Florida school board at gunpoint said Wednesday that her husband was a gentle giant who was pushed over the edge by the economy and frustrated over her losing her teaching job.
"He wanted to get me an answer," Rebecca Duke said a day after her husband, Clay Duke, killed himself. He shot at school board members in Panama City, missing some of them by mere inches (centimeters), before he exchanged gunfire with a security guard. As he lay on the floor in the boardroom, he shot himself to death in the head.
"The economy and the world just got the better of him," Rebecca Duke said in a rambling press conference to talk about the man she loved.
Police said Clay Duke was a 56-year-old ex-convict who had circled Dec. 14 on a calendar in a mobile home he kept in the woods, evidence he had been planning the attack for some time.
Bay District officials confirmed his 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.
Minutes before the shooting, the room had been filled with students accepting awards, but no one was hurt except Duke, who shot himself after exchanging fire with a security guard, police said.
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.
"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.
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 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.
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 ex-wife 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.


Updated : 2021-10-24 04:32 GMT+08:00