1 injured in Ocala high school shooting; suspect in custody
MARION COUNTY, Fla (WOFL FOX 35) - Authorities on Friday responded to a shooting at a high school in Marion County, Florida.
Deputies with the Marion County Sheriff's Office arrived at Ocala's Forest High School shortly before 9 a.m., to discover a 17-year-old boy had suffered a non-life-threatening injury to his ankle. That injured student was taken to an area hospital for treatment.
The accused shooter, later identified as Sky Bouche, 19, of Crystal River, is not a student at the school. He was placed into custody following quick actions by a school resource officer. An arrest report noted that a 17.5-inch barrel shotgun was also recovered at the scene.
"We were doing the pledge, and walking to class. The second the pledge was done, the shotgun shot went off, like two feet away from the outside of my classroom!" said Jordan Fields, a freshman at Forest High. "Everybody started running into the back room to hide. We all just waited and the police showed up and searched everything, cleared us all out and escorted us on the buses."
"I was in driver's ed," said Dillon Nowlin, a tenth-grader at Forest High, "and coach was like, 'Here’s what’s gonna happen. If things do get rough, we are gonna run out of the classroom and go to safest place possible!' which was the baseball field. I was honestly shaking! It was scary!"
The school had been locked down during the investigation, which included law enforcement officers from the Ocala Police Department, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol and the FBI. Authorities were asking that people avoid the area.
"I was just scrolling on Facebook, and someone said there’s hundreds of cop cars at Forest, then a comment saying it was a shot, so I just went straight there," explained Jordan's mother. "It's just getting scarier and scarier!"
"When I tell you I probably broke every law trying to get to that school to get to my child, I did!" said parent Cristina Puente. "No parent wants this phone call. No parent wants to hear there's a shooter or an active shooting at your child's school!"
During a news conference, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods explained that, at 8:39 a.m., School Resource Officer Deputy Jim Long heard a loud sound and rushed to the scene, where he found the victim shot. By 8:42 a.m., Woods said Deputy Long engaged the shooter and took him into custody. The suspect did not resist arrest, Sheriff Woods said.
"Deputy Jimmy Long. That man in my eyes is a hero," said Sheriff Woods. "Without hesitation, without second thought, in less than three minutes after hearing the gunshot, responded and took into custody the suspect."
Sheriff Woods also praised the school staff.
"The principal of that high school followed my deputy, going up them stairs, and engaging that suspect," he said, describing the principal as "an individual with fortitude and character."
Lastly, he commented on the shooting victim, offering "kudos" to the young man.
"He told my chief deputy this, and he said, 'I am so glad that it was me and not one of my friends.'"
The sheriff said the shooting was intentional, but he did not offer a motive, nor did he release the identity of the victim. No one else was hurt.
Bouche now faces felony charges including: one count of terrorism, one count of aggravated assault with a firearm, one count of culpable negligence, one count of carrying a concealed firearm, and one count of possession of a firearm on school property.
The shooting at the Ocala school comes as students from across the country were planning national day of walkouts, in the latest round of gun-control activism following the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Friday was also the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, which left 13 people dead in Littleton, Colorado.
At 10 a.m. in each time zone, students at dozens of schools left class to take moments of silence honoring the victims at Columbine and other shootings.
Bouche made his first appearance before a judge at the Marion County Jail at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. No bond was issued, but Bouche was given a public defender and is expected to reappear before a judge on May 22.