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Man fatally shoots self on Farnell Middle School campus in Tampa, deputies say

The man shot himself near the entrance to the school as students were being dropped off, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
 
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office vehicles are seen at Farnell Middle School in Tampa on Friday after a man was found dead on the campus.
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office vehicles are seen at Farnell Middle School in Tampa on Friday after a man was found dead on the campus. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Oct. 20, 2023|Updated Oct. 21, 2023

Editor’s note: This story includes discussion of suicide. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, help is available. Resources are listed at the bottom of this story.

A man fatally shot himself on Farnell Middle School’s campus on Friday morning as students were being dropped off, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said.

The man parked on the campus at 13912 Nine Eagles Drive, walked toward an entrance where children were being dropped off, pulled a firearm and shot himself in the head, Chronister said at a news conference at the school later Friday morning.

Deputies identified him in a Friday evening news release as Jason Alex Layman, 52. He was married to a teacher at the school and filed for divorce in 2021.

“The unfortunate part is there were two children that had just been dropped off that were just a few short feet behind him,” Chronister said.

The students ran to the office to report that someone had just fired a gun, Chronister said.

“You can imagine the trauma that these two children endured and the anxiety that’s occurring because they don’t know exactly what’s happening at this point,” Chronister said.

The school was immediately put into lockdown status. A deputy already on campus and two others who were near the campus responded “within seconds,” Chronister said.

“Fortunately, the only threat today was to the individual who took his own life,” Chronister said.

A school district spokesperson said as of about 11 a.m. the lockdown had been lifted, the school was still open and students had assembled in the gym. The school principal was communicating with parents, the spokesperson said.

Times staff writer Marlene Sokol contributed to this report.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, reach out to the 24-hour National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by texting or calling 988 or chat with someone online at suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay can be reached by dialing 211 or by visiting crisiscenter.com.