A 56-year-old ex-convict calmly held a school board at gunpoint and said he was seeking redress for his wife’s firing before shooting at the superintendent at short range and then killing himself, the Associated Press reports. No bullets struck the superintendent, Bill Husfelt, who credited God for his escape late Tuesday. The gunman, Clay A. Duke, apparantly created a Facebook page last week that refers to class warfare and is laced with images from the movie “V for Vendetta,” in which a mysterious figure battles a totalitarian government.

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

As the Bay City school board was in the midst of a discussion Tuesday, 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. Despite his shock, Bay City Schools Superintendent Bill Husfelt mustered a calm voice and tried to persuade Duke to drop the gun, but Duke just shook his head, blaming officials for his wife being fired. Video showed him slowly raising the gun and leveling it at Husfelt, who pleaded “Please don’t, please don’t.”

Duke shot twice at Husfelt from about 8 feet away and squeezed off several more rounds before security guard Mike Jones bolted in and, after exchanging gunfire with Duke, wounded him in the leg or side. Duke then fatally shot himself, police Sgt. Jeff Becker said. Somehow, no one else who remained in the small board room was injured in the clash that lasted several minutes, and Husfelt said at least two rounds lodged in the wall behind him.

“It was so surreal. You couldn’t believe it was going on,” he said.

Before the shooting started, the only woman on the five-member board–who had left the room as ordered–came back, sneaked up behind Duke and whacked his gun arm with her large, brown purse.

“In my mind, that was the last attempt or opportunity to divert him,” Ginger Littleton said.

Duke, a large, heavyset man dressed in a dark pullover coat, got angry, turned around, and she fell to the floor, as board members pleaded with her to stop. Duke pointed the gun at her head and said, “You stupid b—-” but he didn’t shoot her, she said. She’s not sure why.

“He said ‘you stupid blank’ and I think the ‘you stupid’ part, I thought at that point, probably, you’re right. I was pretty stupid,” Littleton told NBC’s “Today” show early Wednesday.

In his brief exchange with the board, Duke said his wife had been fired from the northern Florida district, but never told Husfelt or the board who she was or her job. Members promised to help her find a new job, but Duke just shook his head. Husfelt told Duke he would be responsible for her dismissal, so the board members should be allowed to leave…

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staff and wire services reports