Dale Regan, the head of Episcopal School of Jacksonville, was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon by a teacher who had been fired, according to police. That teacher then turned the gun on himself.
"We have full confidence that Dale Regan is already with God and in heaven with our Lord and savior Jesus, but we ask for your prayers as we mourn this great leader," said the Rev. Kathryn Moorehead, dean of Episcopal Cathedral.
Police said Spanish teacher Shane Schumerth, 28, went on campus with an AK-47 in a guitar case, went to the administrative office, shot Regan several times, then killed himself.
Police and firefighters called to reports of gunfire on campus found the bodies about 1:30 p.m.
"No children were involved, we believe, and no one is in danger," Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda announced within 30 minutes of the shooting.
"First we heard a gunshot, then we heard like eight more. Another teacher came in and said, 'Go to the small office on the side and hide,'" said 11th-grader Maria Boyance. "A lot of people were crying and freaking out, but the teachers stayed calm the whole time."
"I know a lot of students said he wasn't a good teacher, but we don't know specifically what he did," Boyance said of the gunman. "And I know he had to be escorted out of the classroom earlier that morning, too, because he didn't want to leave."
Teacher Carolyn Cooper said she heard five gunshots.
"I think our headmaster was killed today, and I think it was an unhappy teacher that was fired this morning (that shot her)," Cooper said.
"My heart immediately started racing," Dave Steel said after getting a text from his son. "All I could think of was the worst and come and get my son immediately to make sure he was safe."
Another parent, Shoran Williams, rushed to the school after getting a call from her husband.
"All we knew was there was a shooting and the school was on lockdown," Williams said. "My concern, initially, was for my daughter because I didn't know."
The campus was put on lockdown with multiple police units responding, but parents were allowed to pick up their children on their normal schedule.
"It's a very safe school, wonderful school," parent Lauren Baxter said. "If something can happen here, it can happen anywhere."
Episcopal School sent a message to parents assuring them that all students are safe and that pickup would proceed normally, and that the school will remain closed for the rest of the week and will reopen on March 19, after spring break.
Regan had worked at the school for 34 years and had been head of school for seven years.
"When I was given the news of the tragic death of Dale Regan today, I joined the entire Jacksonville community in being both shocked and saddened," Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers are with the Regan family and all who were affected by this awful act. I join with the entire state of Florida this evening in mourning the loss of such a wonderful teacher and leader."
This was Schumerth's second year teaching at Episcopal. The Purdue University graduate previously taught at John E. Ford, a Duval County K-8 public school, where he resigned in 2010.
On his last Duval County Public Schools evaluation in 2009, his overall evaluation was satisfactory, but he was given several "needs improvement" notations, including for classroom management techniques. It said, "Teacher lacks student motivation skills" and "curriculum delivery lacks enthusiasm."