Jacob Schrull produced this update.
Hourly News Update
Jacob Schrull produced this update.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) â The gunman who shot three people at Florida State University’s library early Thursday before being killed by police was a lawyer who graduated from the school, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
The official said the shooter was Myron May, who graduated from Florida State before attending Texas Tech University’s law school. The official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to release the name.
May was fatally shot early Thursday after he shot three people at the Florida State library. Two are hospitalized and one has been released.
Abigail Taunton, who runs a foster home in the Florida Panhandle, told the AP that May had recently been staying at a guest house she owns. She said police interviewed her husband, David, after the shooting.
The shooting happened about 12:30 a.m., sending hundreds of students who had been up all night studying for exams scrambling for cover in the book aisles and barricading themselves in with desks. Three students were wounded before police killed the gunman in a shootout, authorities said.
Police and FSU officials called the shooting an “isolated incident,” but have not released many details, including how far May made it into Strozier Library. FSU’s compact campus is located less than a mile from downtown Tallahassee and the state Capitol.
“This person just for whatever reason produced a handgun and then began shooting students in the library,” FSU Police Chief David Perry said.
Students inside the multistory library heard about half a dozen gunshots. Students began screaming that someone was shooting at them and flipped over chairs in their race to take cover.
“I ran for my life,” said Allison Kope, a freshman from Cocoa Beach, who was on the library’s first floor. “I ran right out the backdoor. My laptop and everything is still in there. It was shock. It was just instinct. You don’t think about anything else, you just go.”
Other students hid in the book aisles and some barricaded themselves in rooms.
Sarah Evans, a senior from Miami, said she was inside the library and heard a male student say he had been shot. When she looked at him, he was on the ground with blood spreading on his pants leg.
Two of the victims were taken to a local hospital. FSU officials said a third student was only grazed by a bullet and was treated at the scene and released.
Tallahassee and Florida State University police confronted the gunman just outside the library that sits in the middle of the campus and ordered him to drop his handgun, but he fired a shot at them and they unleashed a volley of shots, Tallahassee Police spokesman Dave Northway said.
Hours after the shooting, detectives could be seen inspecting the body of May, who was lying face down at the top of an access ramp just outside the library. A baseball cap lay nearby.
The shooting prompted a campus alert that urged students to take shelter and stay away from doors and windows. After the shooting, FSU officials announced classes would be canceled for Thursday.
Daniel Morales, a 19-year-old freshman from Fort Pierce who was in the library during the attack, said that when he first heard someone say “somebody’s got a gun. I thought he was joking.” But after realizing there was a gunman in the library, Morales and others raced to a back room on the second floor where they barricaded a door with desks.
Freshman Nikolai Hernandez said he was in his dorm room across from the library when he heard five or six rapid gunshots.
“It was a consecutive bop, bop, bop, bop, bop,” Hernandez said. “It makes me definitely a little bit nervous. I was supposed to be in the library. I had a paper to do and I got a little bit lazy and decided not to do it.”
Florida State President John Thrasher, who took office earlier this month, said by phone that he was in New York City at the time of the shooting. He said he was scheduled to return to Tallahassee later Thursday.
Associated Press writer Jeff McMurray in Chicago contributed to this report.
Update, Nov. 20: Gainesville High School received two phone calls Thursday morning almost identical to Wednesday’s threat, according to a release from Alachua County Public Schools spokeswoman Jackie Johnson.
“We have been in consultation with GPD,” Johnson wrote, ”and this is not considered an active threat.”
Nothing was found during a visual search of the campus. GHS is operating normally, and the campus has not been evacuated.
Parents have been contacted via email and text messaging. Anyone with more information is asked to report it immediately.
Original Post: Gainesville High School evacuated Wednesday after a bomb threat was called into the school’s main line.
At 12:09 p.m., a secretary answered a call that appeared to be from a juvenile. The caller said “bomb threat” and hung up before any questions could be asked.
As a precaution, Gainesville Police Department and Alachua County School Board personnel safely evacuated the 1,900 students and staff to the nearby Planet Fitness parking lot until a complete sweep of the school could be done.
Gainesville Police borrowed three certified bomb-sniffing canines from University of Florida Police Department and one from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office to help clear the campus room-by-room.
Parents were notified by the school board via an automated phone call and given the option to pick their students up from the Planet Fitness parking lot.
Beatrice Flagg, a grandmother of an 11th grade GHS student, said her grandson called her to say he could be picked up.
“With all the things that are happening at the schools nowadays, I was very concerned,” Flagg said. “My grandkids are my heart.”
As of school dismissal time at 2 p.m., no students were allowed in the buildings and no cars were allowed to enter campus. Students who drove to campus were allowed to pick up their cars from the parking lot and bus riders were picked up from the bus loop.
Kelly Serrano, a 10th grade student, was in class when an announcement was made that they had to evacuate the school. She said she was scared and did not know what would happen.
GPD spokesman, Officer Ben Tobias, said that after the department searches every room and confirms there is nothing in the school, they will work backwards to identify who called the threat in.
“We’ve been pretty lucking with not having too many (bomb threats this past year),” Tobias said.
An “all clear” was announced via email at 3:32 p.m. Information on the suspect is still unknown.
GPD’s investigators are working to identify the caller, Tobias said.
“We have to work very closely with the telephone company,” Tobias said. “[We'll] try to backtrack where the call came from and if we’re able to identify that person then they will definitely be charged.”
Going forward, the high school will be monitored more closely.
“We have school resource officers assigned at the high school anyway,” Tobias said. “They will just make sure they’re keeping an extra watch on the school.”
Morgan Frazier and Kyle Follansbee contributed to this report.
Edwin Exaus produced this update.
With temperatures in North Central Florida plunging to 30 degrees Fahrenheit, Alachua County’s homeless population is seeking shelter from the elements.
Bo Diddley Plaza downtown was starkly empty Wednesday morning, as most who normally sleep there looked for warmer arrangements. Only a few remained.
Commodore Mullet and his dog Missy slept bundled together in a sleeping bag and a tarp. Mullet wore three layers of jackets, two pairs of thermal leggings, pants, two pairs of socks, gloves and a hat to keep warm.
Not wanting to abandon his small black-and-white companion, he did not seek to sleep at St. Francis House a few blocks over. Mullet also voiced his displeasure with the shelter, saying he feels unwelcome there.
“We shouldn’t be treated like we’re a lesser person,” he said of himself and other homeless residents.
With temperatures this week approximately 20 degrees below average, according to UF meteorologist Jeff Huffman, the recently opened Grace Marketplace shelter off Waldo Road felt pressure to open more indoor sleeping areas.
The shelter opens up its welcome center for nightly accommodation when the temperature drops below 45 degrees at night, according to Jonathan DeCarmine, Director of Operations for the North Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry.
Grace Marketplace had 26 people come sleep in the center Tuesday night, the coldest night the area has seen this season. The shelter can accommodate more people, but not many are willing to move inside for the night. Over 100 people live in tents surrounding the campus.
However, some are not apt to leave their tents for fear of leaving their belongings vulnerable to theft.
“Coming inside means leaving everything you own behind in that tent,” DeCarmine said.
Some people bond together as a means to combat the cold by sleeping near each other in trucks or in tents. James Bell, Jeff Cheroki, Joe Davis and Mark Lewis do just that.
“Everybody in this camp is like a family,” Bell said. “We help each other out.”
They keep a fire going with firewood they gather and share blankets.
Cheroki plans on moving into an apartment as soon as his disability check arrives from Colorado.
“This is a temporary situation, but for a temporary situation this is ideal,” he said of staying with his three friends in their camp.
They all spoke of the kindness of the employees at Grace Marketplace and how they provided services for them, especially for the cold nights.
“They don’t put you down,” Cheroki said.
Homeless shelters are pushing capacity in order to house more individuals during the cold weather spell. In order for the homeless to sleep inside shelters, temperatures need to drop below 45 degrees.
St. Francis House can host up to 80 extra people during cold weather conditions. The shelter, which houses families and children, also requires a “blue card.” This blue card, which is free and issued by the Gainesville Police Department, lists whether the individual is a sex offender or has outstanding arrest warrants.
To get a blue card, an individual presents a valid ID to GPD, who checks with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office for warrants and sex predator status. GPD spokesman, Officer Ben Tobias, said that the process to get a card is not a background check.
In the event that they cannot house an individual, St. Francis receives support from other shelters, like Grace Marketplace, which does not house families or children.
Kent Vann, executive director of St. Francis House, stressed that although safety is their first priority with the blue cards, he hopes everyone sleeps inside.
The University of Florida’s football stadium, widely known as “The Swamp” is one of the loudest stadiums in the nation, ranked No. 3 in noise by ESPN. It is also one of the largest stadiums, ranked No. 13 according to Fox Sports. The venue holds over 88,000 people, but over 90,000 attend the larger games, such as the matchup between in-state rival Florida State University in 2009.
Although many fans love the roar of the stadiums, Justin Margolis sees the noise as a disadvantage.
“The noise is so loud,” Margolis said. “You can’t even hear yourself think.”
This may be cause for concern.
Although Louisiana State University’s Death Valley stadium is said to be the loudest venue in college football, UF’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium’s unique structure causes all of the sound to funnel to the center of the field.
The sound produced by fans is often caught inside, making it even louder.
In fact, a sound meter picked up so much noise during Florida’s game against Eastern Michigan that the levels were maxed out.
But for some, such as Florida Football fan Stefano Teixeira, the roaring cheers are a part of the overall experience.
“Coming into the stadium and coming out is deafening,” Teixeira said. ”It’s one of the greatest experiences you can encounter.”
But danger could be in the numbers.
Dr. Jagadish Swamy of Clear Sound Audiology in Gainesville explained a person should not be exposed to a level of 85 decibels for more than eight hours – and the louder it gets, the less time someone should tolerate it.
“(For) every three decibels over 85 decibels, the recommended duration is taken by half,” Swamy said. “So, let’s say you go from 85 to 88 (decibels), the recommended exposure time would be four hours. Now, imagine if it’s about 100 decibels or 120, it could just be a few minutes.”
Inside the stadium, when the fans are settled and plays are dead, the levels read at around 77 decibels.
Outside of the stadium during a game day, fans produce sound levels of about 70 decibels.
And on one of the highest rows in the north end zone, when the crowd goes wild, levels read over 100 decibels, which fans and players are experiencing for almost four hours.
The Guinness World Record for the highest decibel level in a stadium was set by the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Fans produced sound levels of 142.2 decibels during a game against the New England Patriots.
Swamy said any protection to the ears can help. Athletes are the most exposed, but they are protected by their helmets.
“It offers some protection,” Swamy said. But while the athletes are on the sidelines with their helmets off, the experience the full force of the noise. “The stadium and everybody makes noise so they cannot hear.”
Although people enjoy the excitement of football games, the damaging effects are considerable.
Swamy advises fans to take caution when attending football games. Any protection, like wearing headphones or ear plugs, can help to lessen vulnerability to dangerous sound levels during a Florida Football game.