One student injured; shooter is in custody.
Austin L. Miller | Ocala Star Banner Staff Writer
A male student was shot in the ankle Friday morning at Forest High School. The shooter is in custody. The injured student suffered a non-life-threatening injury and was taken to a local hospital.
As of 10:20 a.m., all Marion County middle and high schools were on lockdown.
The Forest shooting call came in to law enforcement at 8:39 a.m. By 8:42 a.m. the shooter was in custody.
Chris Oliver’s 16-year-old son is a Forest student. The boy told his father that the shooting happened near his classroom. According to the boy’s account, the shooter was standing in a hallway and shot at a closed classroom door.
The shooter then dropped his weapon, ran and tried to hide, according to the boy’s account.
Parents are being told to go to First Baptist Church of Ocala, 2801 S.E. Maricamp Road, Ocala, not to the Forest campus. All Forest students are being taken to the church by bus.
By 9:45 a.m., many parents already had gathered at the church. They were being asked to fill out forms that match them to their student. At 10:15 a.m. the first buses started arriving, escorted by law officers on motorcycles. Students walked into the church single file. Most didn’t have backpacks or any accessories except for phones and some jackets.
Among the law enforcement agencies on the Forest campus are the Ocala Police Department, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Highway Patrol and the FBI. They divided into teams that cleared all buildings, vehicles and the parking lot area. Marion County Fire Rescue also set up an on-campus triage area for any student who needs assistance.
School district spokesman Kevin Christian sent a recorded message to parents by phone Friday morning, notifying them of what happened and urging them to avoid the Forest campus, 5000 S.E. Maricamp Road.
“You cannot get on the campus and Maricamp Road is virtually blocked in front of the school,” he said.
Today is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting in Colorado, and across the nation — including Marion County — many high school students are planning to demonstrate in support of gun safety.
Among the parents standing outside the school Friday morning was Tom Johnson, whose 16-year-old son is a Forest student. The boy had called him in a low voice, saying the teacher told them to stay on the ground.
“It (school violence) has made its way home,” Johnson said. “These are our babies. We need to protect them.”
Staff writer Katie Pohlman contributed to this report.