Survivors Recount 'Pure Terror,' Uncanny Heroism in Deadly Florida School Board Shooting

When offered escape, one woman returned to fight gunman with handbag instead.

December 14, 2010, 4:27 PM

Dec. 15, 2010— -- After a man pulled a gun at a Florida school board meeting Tuesday, one of the board members had a chance to escape. But instead of fleeing, Ginger Littleton said she thought of her fellow board members, turned back and put her life on the line, attacking the gunman with her purse.

"I had the choice of leaving," Littleton told "Good Morning America" today. "When I turned back around he was up on the level with my guys and they were all sitting there lined up like ducks in a pond ... completely defenseless.

"So I could either walk away, thinking something bad was going to happen and try to live with myself, or I could try to do something to divert or delay. So my bag was what I had and so that's what I did," Littleton said.

In a video that was recording the board meeting, Littleton is seen sneaking up behind the gunman, later identified as 56-year-old Clay Duke, before smacking his arm with her purse. Duke overpowered Littleton but let her go again.

The incident began Tuesday, when according to police, Duke disrupted the school board meeting by proclaiming he had "a motion" and spray-painted a large "V" with a circle around it on the wall. When he turned back around, Duke threatened the room with a gun.

"The painting was disconcerting, the gun was pure terror," Littleton said.

Inside the meeting was reporter Nadeen Yanes of ABC affiliate WMBB-TV, who shot the exclusive video of the incident.

In the video, Duke is seen dismissing the women and children from the room before school superintendent Bill Husfelt tried to talk Duke out of the attack, or at least letting the other board members go.

"Will you let them go? You're obviously upset at me, so why are they here?" Husfelt said in the video. "This isn't worth it. This is a problem."

Then, when the gunman trained his weapon on Husfelt, Husfelt shifted in his seat and asked, "Please don't. Please don't. Please."

Another Hero Saves the Day

Duke fired and Husfelt hit the floor, but he was not shot -- a miracle, he said.

"Right before he pulled that trigger, I knew he was going to pull the trigger," Husfelt told "GMA" today. "There was a miracle that I wasn't shot. He literally had the gun pointed right at me. ... God was standing in front of me. I believe that with all my heart."

After the shots were fired, Mike Jones, a security officer in the building, responded.

"He knew he was supposed to wait for backup, but he knew at the time he couldn't," Husfelt said. "Mike saved our lives. ... This tragedy could've been huge on many levels."

Jones and Duke exchanged fire before Duke was struck. In the video he is seen falling to the floor before using his gun to take his own life. Police said 10 shots were fired altogether and no one else was hurt.

"Mike saved the day. There's no doubt," Littleton said.

Police are investigating Duke's possible motive. In the video, Duke told the school board members they'd fired his wife.

"We still don't know what he was talking about," Husfelt said. "We'd never seen him."

But Husfelt said it was obvious something was wrong with the man.

"He was looking at you, but he seemed distant. ... He had some problems," he said. "He had planned to die then and there. There's no doubt about that."

Similar to the painting on the wall, Duke's Facebook page showed a "V" with a red circle around it -- a symbol made famous in the movie "V for Vendetta," which is about an anarchist hero. On his Facebook page, Duke railed against the wealthy.

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