Gov. Scott honors school resource officer for 'bravery' during Ocala school shooting
Deputy Jim Long, teacher Kelly McManus-Panasuk credited with stopping gunman
OCALA, Fla. – Days after a shooting at a school in Ocala, Gov. Rick Scott honored law enforcement officers and school staff in Marion County for their response to the incident last week.
Scott, specifically honored Deputy Jim Long, the Forest High School resource officer who took the accused gunman into custody, during a medal ceremony at the Emergency Operations Center.
Students at the school also plan to honor the first responders during their own rally on campus.
Later Wednesday, some students plan to protest gun violence during a rally called “Never Again Ocala.” The event will start at 4:30 p.m. at the Ocala Downtown Square.
Long, who said he attended Forest High and graduated from the school in 1989, said preventing further student injury was a "joint effort" by the Marion County Sheriff's Office and Forest High School staff.
Long arrested 19-year-old Sky Bouche last week minutes after deputies said he fired one shot, injuring a student. High school teacher Kelly McManus-Panasuk confronted Bouche first and talked him down, school officials said.
News 6 on Tuesday spoke to the heroic teacher credited with stopping the accused gunman from injuring any others after he opened fire and shot a student in the ankle, deputies said.
McManus-Panasuk said she confronted Bouche during the incident Friday.
“I just said, 'Stop. Stop right there. Don't move,' and proceeded to ask him questions and talk to him and brought him into my room because I needed to call the office and say I had him,” McManus-Panasuk said.
Bouche was arrested shortly after their encounter and was taken to the Marion County Jail, where he is being held without bond.
Scott gave Long the highest honor anyone in the state of Florida can receive during the ceremony Wednesday.
"He was trained and knew exactly what to do," Scott said. "It’s because of his bravery that this tragedy never had a chance to unfold."
Since the shooting, officials have ordered 34 new officers to be placed in the county's schools for the remainder of the school year.
The Marion County School Board on Monday approved $224,000 to pay for the officers to protect elementary and charter schools for the four weeks remaining in the school year, reports said.
Authorities said Bouche opened fire at the Ocala high school on the date marking 19 years since the Columbine school shooting, a day when national classroom walkouts were planned in an effort to protest gun violence.
Bouche faces terrorism, aggravated assault with a firearm and other charges.
The shooting occurred about two months after a gunman killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Long was among the law enforcement officers who took part in school safety workshops hosted by the governor to address the problem of gun violence on campuses.
Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart said she first met Long at one of those workshops in Tallahassee. She described the school resource officer as "unassuming" and said he is a man of few words.
"When he speaks or acts, you will want to pay attention," Stewart said Wednesday during the medal ceremony.
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