Superintendent: 'God Protected Me from Shooter'

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The Panama City, Fla. schools superintendent, who calmly confronted a gunman during a board meeting Tuesday, claimed God protected him when the suspect opened fire on the gathering.

"If you could've seen that gentleman's eyes, this was going to happen," superintendent Bill Husfelt said. "There was nothing we could've done to stop him. We're very thankful and blessed to be alive."

Clay Duke, who later fired point-blank at board members, had been sitting in the audience listening to routine business.

The dramatic incident was caught on video after a local TV reporter left her camera rolling. The video showed 56-year-old Duke addressing board members from behind a podium and then spray painting a "V" symbol on the wall.

"I saw him come out and spray paint a big 'V' in a circle and he said, 'I have a motion for you,'" Nadeen Yanes, a reporter for WMBB, said.

Click play to watch an updated report with CBN News Senior Editor John Waage, followed by an interview with Superintendent Bill Husfelt on the shooting, and how he feels God intervened.

The gunman, who has a history of criminal activity, claimed the school district had fired his wife. He then pulled a handgun from his pocket and told all of the women sitting on the board to leave.

Female board member Ginger Littleton carefully crept back into the meeting room and managed to hit the gunman from behind. He pushed her down, but didn't hurt her.

"He had the gun down to his right side. I thought, my choices are to walk away," Littleton recalled. "I had no doubt he was going to kill everyone sitting in those chairs."

"Can I walk away and live with myself, or do I have to do something that may turn out to be very stupid," she continued.

Duke then aimed the gun at the Husfelt, who calmly pleaded with the man not to shoot.

"I don't know if I have ever been through anything as surreal as this," Husfelt said.

Duke fired his weapon as board members dived for cover. He missed several times before school security officer Mike Jones charged into room and wounded him. Police said the gunman then fatally shot himself.

"Mike Jones is the hero in all this," Husfelt said.

People acquainted with Jones have considered the retired police detective a hero for more than 25 years. That's how long the man, also known as the "Salvage Santa," has been fixing up old bicycles for underprivileged children.

"You ask any kid what they want for Christmas, they always say a bicycle," Jones said.
    
Jones was not injured in the Tuesday standoff, but was taken to the hospital with complaints of chest pain. He is currently in stable condition at Bay Medical Center.

"Inside that big teddy bear heart of his that hurts for hurting people is a man of steel and a man of great courage," said Luther Stanford, senior pastor of Northside Baptist Church where Jones attends services.

"I think Mike is an incredible example of a regular ordinary person that God was able to use in an extraordinary way today," Stanford added.

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Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.