PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- A gunman who opened fire at a school board meeting and then exchanged shots with a security guard has killed himself, police said.
Witnesses said the gunman walked up to a podium, spray painted a red "V" with a circle around it and began firing.
School board member Ginger Littleton said she hit the gunman in the arm with her purse when some of the people in the room were ordered out.
"In my mind, that was the last attempt or opportunity to divert him," she told The Associated Press.
The gunman got angry, turned around, and she fell to the floor. The man pointed the gun at her head and said, "You stupid b-" but he didn't shoot her, she said. She's not sure why.
"He had every opportunity take me out," she said.
Initially, officials thought the security guard may have killed the gunman. But police Sgt. Jeff Becker said that after authorities reviewed videotape of the shooting, investigators determined that the gunman, identified as Clay A. Duke, fatally shot himself after being hit by shots fired by Jones. No one besides the gunman was injured.
State records show Duke, 56, served four years in prison about a decade ago for aggravated stalking and other crimes.
Reporter Daniel Carson of the Panama City News Herald told his paper that he had noticed the man during the meeting and he didn't appear agitated.
Leon Walters, who was also in attendance, said the gunman was a heavy, disheveled man who walked along the side of the room to the podium.
Walters said the man pulled out a can of spray paint and drew a red circle on the wall with a mark through it. Carson and other witnesses described it as the letter "V." The man then pulled out what looked like a pistol.
"What are you doing?" someone asked, Walters recalled. "What's going on?"
The gunman told everyone to leave "except these clowns behind the counter here," referring to the school board members, Walters said. Carson said the gunman told everyone to leave except the male board members.
That's when Littleton hit the gunman with her purse.
Walters left the room but stayed behind one of the doors. He called 911 and was peeking inside.
The gunman was in a heated discussion with the school board members, Walters said.
"I overhead some discussion about his wife needing a job," Walters said. "Or his wife had lost her job or wanting a job or something like that."
Walters heard one member say, "I'll get your wife a job or I'll see if I can't find her a job somewhere."
Carson said he had been spying through the through the door. When he closed it, Carson said he heard two shots.
Bay District officials originally said former police officer Mike Jones, the district's security chief, had fatally shot the gunman as he confronted board members. District spokeswoman Karen Tucker said Jones is also a former board member.
"The guy obviously had a death wish," Tucker said.
State prison records show Duke was charged in October 1999 with aggravated stalking, shooting or throwing a missile into a building or vehicle and obstructing justice. He was convicted and sentenced in January 2000 to five years in prison but was released in January 2004.