Ax-wielding man who tried to enter FL elementary school shot by police

A police officer in Jacksonville, Fla., shot an ax-wielding man on Friday afternoon who allegedly tried to enter a local public school.

The suspect, age 37, allegedly attempted to gain access through two separate locked doors to the Ruth N. Upson Elementary School on Friday at about 3 p.m., according to authorities, prompting the facility to go into lockdown.

Duval County Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene told News4Jax that the suspect who was allegedly carrying a very large axe “left the campus and school police intervened. A school safety assistant followed the man a short distance but remained on campus to ensure there was no further threat to the school.”

Greg Burton, the Duval County Public Schools police chief, described what happened next in this disturbing episode.

“As the subject then left the school, he made his way towards a church where he was then encountered by the police officers,” Burton said. “As the subject came towards one of the police officers, the officers gave him verbal warnings to drop the ax, kept giving him verbal warnings to drop the ax. At that time, the subject threatened the officer with the ax. The subject then was shot at least one time as the officer discharged his service weapon.”

Watch a presser with Greene and Burton aired by First Coast News:

As of Saturday, the suspect was listed in critical condition.

He faces charges including assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, trespassing on school property with a firearm or other weapon, and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, according to booking records. His bond was set at $110,000.

As alluded to above, all the doors were locked pursuant to established school district safety procedures, and no student or adult was harmed in the incident that occurred around school dismissal time.

Greene and Burton praised the staff for following established “Code Red” safety protocols.

A dual-track investigation by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the Duval County school police is ongoing.

“Burton said it’s not known if the suspect had any mental problems or what was his motive, but the Sheriff’s Office will be investigating. He also couldn’t confirm some reports that the suspect swung the ax at parents and chased some in the parking lot arriving to pick up their children,” the Florida Times-Union reported.

“Greene said the school’s video surveillance cameras also allowed staff to see the intruder trying to get in.”

Parents had received two notifications during the incident, one alerting them to the lockdown, and a second one advising that officials had lifted the lockdown.

All suspects are presumed innocent until or unless they are convicted in a court of law of any alleged crimes.

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