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Where do we start with this one? I guess we can start with the fact that a man spray-painting a V on the wall at a school board meeting is inherently dangerous. Anyone with a modicum of situational awareness should have headed for the door at that point, or at least started planning a way out of that room. When the gun came out, it was definitely time to leave. So . . . why wasn’t there a rush for the doors? Gunman Clay Duke actually looks back into the room and tells the remaining occupants to leave. Why is anyone still there? Fight, flight or freeze response, of course. Watch as one of the witnesses ambles out of the room, talking as she goes. Wow. Make the jump for more WTF . . .

The woman striking Mr. Clay with her handbag is, clearly, an idiot. If you’re going to attack a gunman, hit him with something hard, hard. As the Georgia gun rights guy asserted this morning, there’s “no force to [sic] excessive in defense or your life or your family.” What she did was nothing more than distraction. Which should have been enough for the Board members to attack and overwhelm Mr. Clay. After all, Mr. Clay was completely distracted for at least nine seconds. In hostage terms, that is a friggin’ eternity.

The subsequent “negotiations” by the Board are worse than pathetic. They’re downright dangerous. Their repeated protestations that they don’t know Mrs. Clay—whose firing triggered the attack—is a red rag to a bull. They may think they’re saying “it wazzunt me” or “it’s nothing personal,” but it must’ve sounded like “I didn’t give a shit about her” and “she meant nothing to us” to Clay.

“I’m the one that did it” (signed the papers firing Clay’s wife) is roughly equivalent to “Shoot me.” While accompanying the mea culpa with “Will you let them go?” may sound like heroism, once a gunman shoots one hostage, it’s like a damn breaking. Why didn’t they simply STFU? Politicians, eh? Think they can talk their way out of anything. I bet some of them knew the cameras were rolling and thought this is my moment to shine. Seriously.

“Please don’t,” the Board member pleads just before Clay shoots him. I’ve got a better idea. DUCK! MOVE! DON’T DIE!

And then there’s the big issue: what was the School Board’s Chief of Security and former detective Mike Jones waiting for? Jones was in “the back of a room.” When? The whole time? We know this: he had a gun. He shot Clay after Clay fired his weapon. Why didn’t he take Clay out during the handbagging, or ANY time before Clay let loose? Like, say, when Clay was spray-painting the V?

Bottom line: passivity kills. Not this time, perhaps. But that’s only because of luck. “I think it’s safe to say that somebody was watching over the school board members,” Panama City Deputy Police Chief Robert Colbert told reporters Wednesday.

It sure wasn’t the police, who arrived more than six minutes after Mr. Clay drew his weapon. It was more than enough time for him to assassinate all the Board members, reload and kill some more. Click here to this video, go to 1:42 and notice how casually the majority of the cops enter the room, with no particular strategy for IDing the shooter or shooters.

Nor was Mr. Jones watching over the people he was employed to protect—at least not with any combat effectiveness. The only person in that room who refused to be a victim was one brave, deluded handbagger, who re-entered to attack.

This was a major league cluster-you-know-what.

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  1. Five + dudes sitting there and the only one who had a pair hit the guy with her handbag. Lucky for everyone there the crazy wasn’t as crazy as Seung-Hui Cho.

  2. What went wrong? He brought a gun to a handbag fight. Or she brought a handbag to a gunfight. I’m just glad pillows weren’t involved or this comment would get really silly.

    BTW, no comments on Mr. Clay’s marksmanship?

  3. The video of the news report ends with “a lot of heroes in that room”. Are you kidding me? That lunatic should have been taken down the second he showed the gun. And not with a purse. Why wasn’t the security guard more proactive in the defense of the school board members? It’s unclear as to where he was or what was going on. Perhaps he wasn’t in the room yet, I don’t know.

    What I find the most disturbing is the shooter’s casual manner throughout the whole thing. He has his non-gun hand stuck into his pocket for most of the time. Does anybody else find that really demented? The guy looks perfectly at ease with the whole situation. He’s not agitated or jumpy, he’s almost relaxed. Even his manner of speech – it’s like he’s just having a normal conversation with the board. To me, that screams sociopath. I would find that more intimidating than someone who is frantic or screaming, or something to that effect.

    I’d say the one saving grace (outside of the security guards incredibly late arrival) was the shooter’s aim. At first I thought he was missing people on purpose, but towards the end it looks like he really was trying to shoot the board members. He missed every single one from about five feet away, and it’s not like they were scrambling or dodging much. By either God’s grace or that lunatic’s poor aim – or some combination of both – those people are still alive.

  4. I guess there are no panic buttons at the board members reach. The V should of been a big warning. Pretty lucky ending though.

  5. He shot Clay after Clay fired his weapon. Why didn’t he take Clay out during the handbagging, or ANY time before Clay let loose?

    Because he either believes or feels others will think that killing someone for only implicitly threatening to kill others is too harsh. In the US, someone will always claim

    “you could have waited”
    ” you could have tried to prevent his death by talking with him”
    or even
    “you don’t know he was going to actually hurt anyone.”

    The preemptive strike, while sound and legal, is laden with more armchair criticism after the fact.


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