- Associated Press - Thursday, December 23, 2010

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — The widow of the man who held a Florida school board at gunpoint and fired shots before killing himself says she still doesn’t know why it happened.

Rebecca Duke told CBS’ “The Early Show” in an interview aired Thursday that she’ll spend the rest of her life wondering what made her husband, Clay A. Duke, interrupt a school board meeting in Panama City, paint a red “V” on a wall and start shooting. No one else was hurt.

Mrs. Duke lost her job in the school district in February and her unemployment benefits were running out, but it wasn’t clear whether that was what prompted the incident.

In the interview, she remembered her husband as gentle and compassionate with a good sense of humor. She told the Associated Press earlier that he was a gentle giant who always wanted to protect her.

Mrs. Duke also said she felt for the people at the school board meeting and for Mike Jones, the security guard who shot and wounded her husband before Mr. Duke turned the gun on himself.

She and other family members told the AP earlier that they were grateful Duke waited to fire his weapon until the room was largely empty.

Meanwhile, school board members have tried to turn the incident into something good. School board member Ginger Littleton auctioned the purse she used in an unsuccessful attempt to disarm Duke by sneaking up behind him and whacking his arm. The money will go to a charity Mr. Jones founded to help needy kids.

The brown Brahmin handbag sold for $13,100 on eBay late Wednesday. The buyer, who lives in Alexandria, Va., asked to remain anonymous.

The purse is from the discontinued Almond Collection and originally sold for $345. The Fairhaven, Mass.-based purse manufacturer said it will match the winning bid, meaning Mr. Jones‘ charity will get $26,200.

 

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