Clay Duke was a troubled, broke ex-con with bipolar disorder, an interest in anarchy, a wife whose unemployment benefits had run out, and frustrations that reached their boiling point on a day circled on his calendar at home.
The burly 56-year-old held a Bay City, Florida school board at gunpoint Tuesday, saying he was prepared to die. He fired at board members, missing them by inches, and then killed himself after exchanging gunfire with a security guard.
Duke’s wife said Wednesday he was an excellent marksman and probably missed the five board members–sitting steps away–on purpose. One board member even crept up from behind and hit Duke with her purse–but he only called her a name and didn’t shoot.
“He didn’t want anyone to get hurt but himself,” Rebecca Duke said of the man she loved. She called him a “gentle giant.”
“The economy and the world just got the better of him,” she said.
In the moments prior to the shooting, Duke spray painted a circle and a large, red V inside of it on the meeting room wall and muttered about rising taxes and how his wife was fired from the school district. The school superintendent, Bill Husfelt, begged Duke not to shoot, but he did.
No one but Duke was injured; a school security guard fired several shots and hit Duke three times in the back. In the end, Duke took his own life by shooting himself in the head.
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Police said the attack wasn’t some spur of the moment idea. At his mobile home in the woods, they found Dec. 14 circled on a calendar. And police said he had at least 25 more rounds of ammunition in his pocket.
The entire shooting was captured by local television stations, and the video was posted on the internet and broadcast on TV throughout the day. His Facebook page, which was public until late Wednesday afternoon, revealed a man who was fascinated with the movie “V for Vendetta”–which depicts the same symbol that Duke spray painted onto the wall just before he took out his gun.
As board members gave television interviews about the harrowing experience, a sad and troubling portrait of Duke emerged.