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Panama City shooter had Tampa ties

The gunman who fired point-blank at Panama City school board members before fatally shooting himself Tuesday lived in Tampa in the 1970s while attending high school, according to the Hillsborough County School District

Clayton Allen Duke, 56, is an ex-convict who graduated from King High in 1972. He was born in Ocala, according to district records.

Authorities say the School Board was in the midst of a routine discussion when Duke walked to the front of the room, spray painted a red "V" with a circle around it on the white wall, then turned and waved a handgun. He calmly ordered everyone to "hit the road" except the men on the board sitting behind a long beige desk.

Bay County School Superintendent Bill Husfelt tried to persuade Duke to drop the gun, but Duke shook his head, blaming officials for his wife's firing. Video shot by a local TV station showed him slowly raising the gun and leveling it at Husfelt, who calmly pleaded, "Please don't, please don't."

"We could tell by the look in his eyes that this wasn't going to end well," Husfelt later told the Associated Press.

Duke shot twice at Husfelt from about eight feet away and squeezed off several more rounds before security guard Mike Jones, a former Panama City police officer, bolted in, exchanged gunfire and shot Duke in the leg or side. Duke then fatally shot himself, police Sgt. Jeff Becker said.

Huslfelt could be heard immediately after the gun battle saying he thought Duke had a cap gun, but police said he used live ammunition.

The V inside a circle that Duke painted on the wall was the logo used in the graphic novel series and movie "V for Vendetta," though what inspired him to use that was unclear. He used the same symbol on his Facebook profile included photos from the film.

On a Facebook page under Duke's name, the only dated entries are from Dec. 7 and 8, a week before the shooting. 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."

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. Records show Duke was a licensed massage therapist before his arrest but it wasn't clear if he was employed at the time of Tuesday's shooting.

Attorney Ben Bollinger, who represented Duke during his trial, told The News Herald of Panama City that Duke was waiting in the woods for his 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. He said that as part of his sentence Duke was required to complete psychological counseling.

"The guy obviously had a death wish," district spokeswoman Karen Tucker said of Duke.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Panama City shooter had Tampa ties 12/15/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 1:57pm]

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