OCALA, Fla. — A Florida school resource officer is being praised for quickly confronting the gunman during a shooting at a high school that injured one student Friday. The shooting happened Friday morning at Forest High School in Ocala, which was put on lockdown. The wounded student, a 17-year-old boy, was taken to a local hospital for treatment of a non-life threatening injury to his ankle.
The suspect,19-year-old Sky Bouche, was quickly taken into custody by the school resource officer, Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy James Long, officials said.
Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said Long heard a loud bang about 8:39 a.m. and immediately rushed to the source of the sound. Within minutes, at about 8:42 a.m., Long reached the shooting scene and the shooter was in custody, officials said.
Long “did not hesitate. He went right in,” Woods said at a news conference.
Bouche, a former student, carried a shotgun in a guitar case into the school by blending in with students, said Craig Ham, deputy superintendent of Ocala schools operations. Ham told reporters the shooter fired at the bottom of a classroom door, which was locked, and pellets struck the victim in the ankle.
“I just shot through the door,” Bouche told reporters as he was being led away by deputies Friday afternoon.
The sheriff said the suspect was not injured, was not fired at, and was arrested without resistance.
“Marion County does everything to protect their children,” Woods said.
Woods praised the quick response by Long, as well as school personnel and first responders.
The shooting comes just over two months after a gunman killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nikolas Cruz, 19, faces the death penalty if convicted in that shooting.
The Ocala shooting also coincided with a nationwide student walkout to protest gun violence on the anniversary of the 19th anniversary of the 1999 massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School. Ocala students said they had been planning to participate.
In the Parkland shooting, school resource officer Scot Peterson stepped down amid accusations he did not do enough to confront Cruz. Video shows Peterson taking up a tactical position outside a school building, but he “never went in” as shots rang out inside. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said Peterson “clearly” knew there was a shooter and that he should have confronted the gunman.
Peterson has said he believed the shooter was outside and followed his training.
In the Ocala incident, Chris Oliver told the Ocala Star-Banner that his 16-year-old son, a Forest student, told him the shooting happened near his classroom Friday morning. The boy told Oliver the shooter stood in a hallway and fired at a closed classroom door. The shooter then dropped the weapon, ran and tried to hide, the boy told his father.
Jake Mailhiot’s psychology class had just begun Friday morning when school officials announced a “code red” alert over the intercom.
“You could hear in their voice that this wasn’t a drill,” the 16-year-old junior said.
Prepared for such alerts, students and teachers leapt into action to barricade the classroom’s one door and block the door’s window.
“Our teachers started pushing file cabinets and desks toward the door, and a few friends and I joined in,” Mailhiot said. “We also started tying together some jackets to hang out the window, in case we needed another way out.”
In a photograph Mailhiot shared on social media, the classroom door is invisible behind a tall pile of furniture.
Mailhiot said about 15 people in the classroom waited over 30 minutes to be evacuated by Ocala police. They were instructed to leave with their hands up, he said.