Jacksonville, FL – A Duval County school police officer is being called a hero after he shot an axe-wielding man on Friday who was trying to break into an elementary school in Murray Hill.
The incident occurred at about 2:40 p.m. on Oct. 7 outside Ruth N. Upson Elementary School, located in the 1000-block of Dancy Street, just as parents were arriving to pick up their children from dismissal, The Florida Times-Union reported.
Duval County Schools Superintendent Diana Greene said a man with an axe started trying to get into the school.
The school went into lockdown, according to WJXX.
When the suspect’s attempts to enter through two different locked doors failed, he started hacking at the building and doors in an attempt to break through.
There were reports that the suspect swung his axe at some of the parents who were waiting at the school and chased several of them into the parking lot, The Florida Times-Union reported.
Duval County Schools Police Chief Greg Burton said investigators have not yet determined the motive for the man’s attack on the school.
The suspect started to leave the campus and a school safety assistant followed him to see where he went, WJXX reported.
Duval County Schools Superintendent Diana Greene said that was when Duval County school police officers arrived on the scene, WFLA reported.
Officers confronted the axe-wielding man and ordered him to drop his weapon multiple times.
The suspect – later identified 37-year-old David Hurley – ignored officers commands and continued to swing the axe, according to police.
An officer opened fire and shot him, WFLA reported.
I have been in contact with @DrDianaGreene. The safety of @CityofJax’s children has been and remains my top priority. Standing in solidarity today with @DuvalSchools after the incident this afternoon. Grateful everyone at the school is safe and headed home to their families.
— Lenny Curry (@lennycurry) October 7, 2022
The suspect was transported to the hospital where he remains in critical condition.
Duval County jail records showed Hurley was absentee-booked into the facility on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, trespassing on school property with a weapon, and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, The Florida Times-Union reported.
Court records showed that three days before the attack at Upson Elementary, a judge in the Duval County Mental Health Court terminated his probation for a 2018 felony auto theft case where police found him in possession of “a small hatchet.”
After Hurley completed a court-ordered psychological evaluation, the judge determined he was incompetent for stand trial and had him committed him to a state hospital, The Florida Times-Union reported.
After a series of Mental Health Court reviews, the judge found him competent to face trial and he pleaded guilty to grand theft auto on Sept. 28, 2020.
Court records showed that Hurley was sentenced to five years of supervised release, The Florida Times-Union reported.
But the judge gave him early release on Oct. 4.
The Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) listed Hurley’s address as Ingleside Avenue, about two blocks away from the elementary school, The Florida Times-Union reported.
Greene credited the school police officers for stopping the suspect before anyone at the school was hurt, WFLA reported.
Thank you notes left on Ruth Upson Elementary school after school staff kept a man with an ax from getting in the building Friday. The suspect was shot by police and at last check still in the hospital. I will have more on the suspects criminal history on @FCN2go at 5. pic.twitter.com/asZZR7aEXe
— Atyia Collins (@Atyia_Collins) October 10, 2022
The superintendent also lauded the school staff’s response to the lockdown and said following policy and established emergency procedures had averted a disaster.