By Jeff Martin and Alina Hartounian / Associated Press
ATLANTA — A social studies teacher barricaded himself inside a classroom at a Georgia high school on Wednesday and fired a handgun in what may have been a warning shot, authorities said.
No students were in the classroom at the time, and the only injury reported was a student who hurt her ankle running when Dalton High School was evacuated. The shooting happened two weeks after a Florida school shooting left 17 students and faculty dead, put the country on edge and ignited a new debate over gun control in America.
The teacher, 53-year-old Jesse Randal Davidson, was taken into custody without incident after a 30- to 45-minute standoff with officers, Dalton police spokesman Bruce Frazier said. Davidson, a teacher since 2004, also serves as the play-by-play announcer for the high school’s football team, police said in a tweet .
Police didn’t immediately say why Davidson fired the gun, but noted that he aimed away from anyone into an exterior window.
“I don’t know whether he was just firing the gun off to let people know to back off or what,” Frazier said.
The shooting happened about 11:30 a.m. during Davidson’s planning period. Students tried to get into his classroom, but he wouldn’t let them in. The students notified the principal, who tried to open the door with a key. That’s when Davidson fired the gun and the school was immediately placed on lockdown, authorities said.
It’s not clear what charges Davidson will face.
Student Emma Jacobs texted her mother while she hid inside a darkened classroom, her mother, Annmarie Jacobs, told The Associated Press. Emma, a junior, said in texts that her teacher had turned the lights off and told the students to sit in a corner.
Then, in an act that brought home the danger of the situation, Emma texted her mother, “omg she’s putting desk in front of the door.”
Jacobs said she was driving in Tennessee, about 100 miles away from the school, when she got the texts. She said she immediately pulled over and started shaking.
Senior Rowdy Zeisig, 18, said he was eating lunch when the warning came over the intercom.
“Everyone was like, ‘Oh my god somebody’s going to shoot up the school’ … We’re all freaking out like, ‘Oh god.’”
Zeisig said he was herded into a classroom and the door was barricaded with a desk and the windows covered.
“When I heard it was a teacher … I was probably even more confused than afraid,” he said.
In the wake of the Florida shooting, some people, including President Donald Trump, have called for arming teachers.
Nathangel Lopez hunkered down with other students and teachers in a gym locker room. While there, he tweeted a photo of teens sitting on benches and called for more gun control.
“This shouldn’t happen to us. … We shouldn’t be afraid to go to school. … I hope a lawmaker somewhere will do something,” he wrote.
When he found out that a teacher was involved, he shifted his stance on arming educators.
“I am totally against that. At first, I was thinking that that might have been a good idea. I am now totally against it,” he said.
Davidson was described as laid back and smart.
“It was always about the students. He really wanted the students to understand the concept,” Zeisig said.
A week ago, police found a “threatening” note on the floor of a classroom at Dalton High, but it wasn’t related to the shooting Wednesday.
Threats have been made at schools across the country in the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Dalton has about 2,000 students, according to its website. It is located about 90 miles (145 kilometers) north of Atlanta.
Dalton is known as the Carpet Capital of the World, since much of the carpet for U.S. and world markets is produced within a 25-mile radius of the city.
Hartounian reported from Phoenix. AP writer Jacob Jordan also contributed to this report.
The teacher involved in this morning’s incident is Jesse Randall Davidson, 53, social studies teacher. Also serves as play by play voice of the Dalton football team.
— Dalton Police (@DaltonPD) February 28, 2018