School Board Shooting Backfires on Gunman
By Audra Smith Haney
The 700 Club
CBN.com -Mike Jones has a sterling reputation in the community of Panama City, FL. He is a popular retired cop and the head of security for the Bay County school board. But on December 14th 2010, he became known as a hero.
Mike was on vacation and wasn’t supposed to be at the bi-monthly school board meeting that day. But when he was called to answer some questions about items on the agenda and decided to attend the meeting.
Mike Jones: “I came here to the Nelson Building. When I arrived, the meeting had already started and I went upstairs to my office to check in.”
Board Member, Ryan Neves: “It was a normal meeting. We’ve got two meetings a month and we went through the normal recognitions proclamations and everything that we normally do, and dismissed all the kids.”
Minutes later, Clay Duke walked to the front of the room. He was the disgruntled husband of a school district employee who had been fired.
Ryan Neves: “We have members of the public who all the time have something they want to say, and then he started spray painting on the wall. And it wasn’t until shortly after when he had finished drawing the ‘V’, that we saw the hand gun. The next 6 minutes or so seemed like forever.”
Board Member, Steve Moss: “He asked the school board members to stay there and everyone to clear out. That is when you knew this wasn’t a drill. This wasn’t fake. He was very serious, and he had some very serious intentions at that point.”
School Superintendant, Bill Husfelt: “I tell people I have never seen evil like that in someone’s eyes.”
Mike Jones: “I wasn't in the building 5 minutes and I got a call from one of the people that were watching what was happening in the board room. They said, ‘Mike, there is a man in the board meeting room with a gun and we don't know if the gun is real or not.’”
“People were running everywhere, running for their lives and I opened the door just a little bit just to look inside. I wanted to find out if that was a real or play gun - if this was a hoax. And, when I looked at the gun, after 36 years in law enforcement, I said, ‘That is a real gun.’”
Although Mike was armed, he knew his weapon couldn’t compete with Clay Duke’s 50 rounds of ammunition. Mike decided to run to his car to retrieve a larger gun, more ammunition, and a bullet-proof vest. In the meantime, the school board members leaned on their mutual faith to sustain them through the next few minutes.
Steve Moss: “At that point, in my eyes, the most powerful thing I could do was pray.”
Ryan Neves: “As tense of a situation as it is, there was a peace and there was a calmness in the room. You had the two administrators that had spent a lifetime as administrators talking this guy down. And you had everybody else in the room that almost on cue just like, ‘Stay silent.’”
Bill Husfelt: “I remember it just like it was yesterday, ‘Okay, I am going to get shot, and I’m probably going to die, but I know where I am going.’ And I just had a calm come over me. It just gave me peace.
At that point, school board member Ginger Littleton came back in the room and stepped up with an unforgettable act of bravery.
Her actions made Duke switch the position of his body, which put the desk between him and the school board members.
Ryan Neves: “If Miss Littleton had not hit the guy with the purse, that made him think, ‘Well maybe I don’t need to be up here on the stage because there is a weak point or there’s a point I can’t see.’ I don’t believe we would have come out there alive.”
Bill Husfelt: “I could tell by his eyes what he was getting ready to do. I knew he was getting ready to shoot me. I just knew it.”
Duke fired at Superintendent Husfelt, at point blank range. But instead of striking the superintendent, the bullet struck the 3 inch notebook in front of him - just 3 inches spared his life.
Bill Husfelt: “It hit the notebook, and I think what happened was the notebook hit me and then I went to the ground. I’m laying on the ground thinking, ‘I know I have been shot, but I am pretty sure it is supposed to hurt more than this.’ I tell people, ‘I knew God was in the room with us, I just didn’t know He was standing in front of me.’”
Mike Jones had entered the room just as Duke started shooting.
Mike Jones: “And as he turned this way, I fired my first shot and struck him. He proceeded in this direction, and I shot him again. And as I shot him the second time, he shot around at Steve Moss the school board member.”
Steve Moss was the only school board member who didn’t duck while the first few rounds were fired. He wasn’t sure what kept him in his chair, but looking back he’s thankful.
Steve Moss: “If I had of dove and gotten out of the way when I should have - when the average person should have when someone starts firing at you -I would have dove right here. Right here is exactly where his second bullet hit - right here and his third bullet hit up here.”
Duke fell to the floor from his wounds. That’s when he unloaded his gun on Mike.
Mike Jones: “Because he was laying on the floor, his bullets actually went through these chairs and struck the wall where I was standing when I fired my first three rounds. There are 5 documented bullets that hit the wall back there. It was a perfect halo of bullets around my head and none of them struck me.”
Duke unloaded several more rounds of ammunition in Mike’s direction before taking his own life.
Mike Jones: “When the superintendent Husfelt stood up and said, ‘Mike, everything is okay.’ because I knew he was dead. How do you miss a man 8 or 10 feet away point blank with a gun pointed right in his face? How do you miss him?”
“That is when I realized God had wrapped his arms around me. That was when I realized that I was a very blessed man. You see those shots and you see that picture. There is no doubt in my mind Who was running the show that day and Who was running my life.”
Within hours, the Bay County school board incident was in the center of national news. In front of the world, the school board members shared that is was God who saved their lives. Today, they still serve on the school board.
Bill Husfelt: “It helped me to have no doubt that when I put my faith and trust in God, it will work out for His glory. It doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen to Christians. It just means that God is going to be there for you, even when the bad things happen.”
Steve Moss: “If one of those bullets had hit me, I know without a doubt I would be in heaven; not because I am a good person or because I do good things, but because I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And I tell folks, ‘Be prepared because you simply don’t know if tomorrow is going to be there.’”
A police report the next year revealed that a Duke’s second shot had been meant for board member Ryan Neves.
Ryan Neves: “We realized that after he shot at the ground and lifted it back up that he pulled the trigger again at me -and nothing happened. I don’t think there was a person that was involved in that situation that can’t say that something miraculous happened and that there was Somebody in the room with us that was protecting us through the situation.”
Because of his actions that day, Mike was given the highest award given to law enforcement officers—the Congressional Badge of Bravery. But he says the glory belong to Another…
: “I describe to people that God had me like a little puppy by the nap of the neck and was leading me through. He used me for what He needed done that day, guided me and I give Him all the glory for it. I mean, I am not Wyatt Earp. It was all God’s doings that day.”
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