By Gary Fineout and Brendan Farrington
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida State University alumnus and attorney who shot three people at the school’s library early Thursday believed the government was targeting him for persecution, detailing his thoughts in a journal and in videos detectives obtained, authorities said.
Officers fatally shot Myron May, 31, during an exchange outside the library about 12:30 a.m. May reloaded at least once and tried to enter the library, where about 450 students were studying for midterm exams, but was blocked by lobby security barriers that permit only students and staff inside, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo said.
“Based on our initial review of the documents and his videos and his postings, it’s clear that Mr. May’s sense of being and place in our community was not what most people would refer to as a normal,” DeLeo said. “He had a sense of crisis and he was searching for something.”
The shooting sent students scrambling for cover in the book aisles and barricading themselves in with desks amid screams from classmates.
“I ran for my life,” said Allison Kope, a freshman from Cocoa Beach, who was on the library’s first floor. “I ran right out the backdoor. My laptop and everything is still in there. It was shock. It was just instinct. You don’t think about anything else, you just go.”
One person is in critical condition and one is in good condition at a local hospital, while the third was released.
May’s Facebook page shows he posted mostly Bible verses and links to conspiracy theories about the government reading people’s minds.
Records show May was licensed to practice law in Texas and New Mexico.
According to a Las Cruces, New Mexico, police report last month, May was a subject of a harassment complaint after a former girlfriend called to report he came to her home uninvited and claimed police were bugging his house and car. Danielle Nixon told police May recently developed “a severe mental disorder.”
“Myron began to ramble and handed her a piece to a car and asked her to keep it because this was a camera that police had put in his vehicle,” the report said.
The report also said May recently quit his job and was on medication.
No charges were filed.
Abigail Taunton, who runs a foster home in the Florida Panhandle, told AP that May was staying at a guest house she owns.
“He’s just a boy our kids grew up with that we let stay in one of our guest houses for a while,” she said. “He’s moving back home from Texas and we were trying to help him get on his feet.”
“We’re just all astounded. We had no idea that he would do something like this,” Taunton said. “Obviously, he was not in his right mind.”
She said she had known him since he was about 13 or 14 and that he ran cross country with her kids and stayed at her house a lot. She said he lived with his grandmother after coming out of a “bad situation” with his parents. He was born in Dayton, Ohio.
“He was having some financial issues and moved back home and decided he’d come back to Florida to work,” she said.
The shooting prompted a campus alert that urged students to take shelter and stay away from doors and windows.
Police responded to a report of a gunman within a minute, and two minutes after the call, officers shot May, according to university police Chief David Perry. DeLeo said more than 30 rounds combined were fired by May and the officers.
Sarah Evans, a senior from Miami, said she was inside the library and heard a man say he had been shot. When she looked at him, he was on the ground with blood spreading on his pants leg.
Library employee Nathan Scott was admitted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound and was in good condition, the hospital said.
Tallahassee and Florida State police confronted May just outside the library in the middle of campus and ordered him to drop his handgun, but he fired a shot at them and they unleashed a volley of shots, Tallahassee Police spokesman Dave Northway said.
Hours after the shooting, detectives could be seen inspecting the body of May, who was lying face down at the top of a ramp just outside the library. A baseball cap lay nearby.
FSU canceled classes Thursday but said they would resume Friday. The library was also to reopen Friday.
Florida State President John Thrasher was in New York City at the time of the shooting but has returned to campus.
“We’re going to get back to normal tomorrow,” Thrasher said. “We’re moving ahead. We’re continuing to pray for the victims and pray for Florida State University, but we’re going to get through this with the great family we have.”