An armed man carrying a shotgun in a guitar case opened fire at a Florida high school on Friday and wounded a student before being arrested on a day in which a gun-violence protest was planned.
happened at Forest High School, which was closed, the Marion County Sheriff's Office reported. A 17-year-old boy was taken to a local hospital to treat a non-life-threatening wound on his ankle.
Some students and teachers piled desks and cupboards against classroom doors as makeshift barricades.
Police said the 19-year-old suspect was also a student at the school, but later said that he was a former student who was not enrolled. No charges were announced immediately.
Shooting comes just over two months after a shooter killed 1
It also coincided with a nationwide student outburst to protest firearm violence on the anniversary of the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School. The Ocala School had planned their version of a strike, students said.
Chris Oliver told the Ocala Star Banner that his 16-year-old son, a forest student, told him that the shooting was taking place near his classroom. The boy told Oliver that the shooter was standing in a hallway firing at a closed classroom door. The shooter then dropped the gun, ran and tried to hide, the boy said to his father.
Craig Ham, Deputy Superintendent of Ocala Schools, said the gunman carried the shotgun to school in a guitar case by mingling with students. Ham told reporters that the shooter had fired on the floor of a locked classroom door, and pellets hit the victim in the ankle.
Jake Mailhiot's psychology class had just begun on Friday morning when school officials announced a Code Red alert on the intercom.
"They could hear in their voice that this was not an exercise," said the 16-year-old junior.
Ready for such warnings, students and teachers jumped in to barricade the classroom door and block
"Our teachers began pushing file cabinets and desks to the door, and a few friends and I joined "Mailhiot said. "We also started putting on some jackets to hang the window in case we needed another way out."
In a photo that Mailhot has shared on social media, the classroom door is invisible behind a tall stack of furniture. Mailhiot said that about 15 people in the classroom had waited more than 30 minutes to be evacuated by police from Ocala. She was instructed to walk with her hands up, he said.
The school had planned to attend a strike at 11 am to commemorate the Columbine filming.
Marion County Schools superintendent Heidi Maier decided weeks before that all the students went out would be punished. Instead, Maier instructed the seven mainstream principals to meet with students to develop a discussion topic for a 30-minute session. All such events were canceled on Friday.
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods praised the quick response of the school resource officer, school staff and first responders. At the shooting of Parkland, school resource officer Scot Peterson retired under abuse because he had not done enough to confront the Stoneman-Douglas gunman.
The Forest Resource Officer, Marion County Sheriff's Deputy James Long, "did not hesitate," Woods said at a news conference. Woods said Long heard a "big, loud blast" and responded immediately.
The sheriff said the suspect was not injured, was not shot at and arrested without resistance.
"Marion County is doing everything it can to protect your children," Woods said.
After that, all the students were taken by police escort to the First Baptist Church in Ocala, where parents gathered to pick them up, officials said.
Rachael Carter was in church, waiting with her daughter, a 10th grade, who turned 16 this week. Carter's pastor called her when he saw a social media post.
"I'm shaking like a leaf in a hurricane," Carter said.
She will "stay with her like a velcro when she's reunited with her daughter."
Students who had seen something about the shootings were interviewed by investigators, police from Ocala, the sheriff's office that investigated Florida Highway Patrol and the FBI divided into teams that cleared out all the buildings, vehicles, and parking areas, and once all the students were out of campus, authorities began to conduct more methodical searches.
Waldhoch has an enrollment of more than 2,000 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Associated Press reporter Jennifer Kay in Miami has contributed to this story.