Around 2:48 p.m. a man carrying “a very large axe” walked up to the entrance of Ruth N. Upson Elementary School and attempted to get inside the building, according to Duval County Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene. School staff refused the man entry, and the school went into lockdown, News 4 Jacksonville reported.
“Our staff followed their training, kept all of our students and staff community safe,” Greene said.
The man was spotted on surveillance footage trying to open two different sets of doors, but both were locked. He also allegedly waved his axe at parents in the parking lot who had arrived to pick up their children. After failing to gain entry, the axe-wielding man walked to a nearby church where he was encountered by police, Duval County Public School (DCPS) Police Chief Greg Burton said.
“As the subject came towards one of the police officers, the officers gave him verbal warnings to drop the axe, kept giving him verbal warnings to drop the axe,” Burton explained. “At that time, the subject threatened the officer with the axe. The subject then was shot at least one time as the officer discharged his service weapon.”
Parents were contacted multiple times and informed of the situation. “We want to let you know first that all students and staff are safe. Again, all students and staff are safe,” one of the messages said before explaining what was happening on school grounds.
The axe wielder was in critical condition following the shooting, and the DCPS police chief said it was still unknown if he suffered from mental issues.