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Books Stop Bullets at Tragic FSU Shooting

A tragic shooting, a confusing profile of a would-be-killer, and a student saved by his library books

Last night, shortly after midnight, three individuals were shot at the Strozier library at Florida State University, where students were up late studying for upcoming exams. Police say the shooter, Myron May, 31, an attorney and alumnus of the school, was finally killed by officers after refusing to drop his gun. One of the victims was treated on the scene, and two others were hospitalized.

"I ran for my life," Allison Kope, a freshman at the school, told the Associated Press. "I ran right out the backdoor. My laptop and everything is still in there. It was shock. You don't think about anything else, you just go."

Myron May

As police and reporters scrambled to make sense of the situation throughout the day, it became clear that the perpetrator did not match the stereotype of the “school shooter” that has become conventional wisdom in the aftermath of the Elliot Rodger shootings at UC Santa Barbara this summer: May was deeply religious and at one point had been academically and professionally successful. But friends and associates report that May had become increasingly paranoid and depressed over the last year, had lost several loved ones, and posted regularly on message boards for “targeted individuals,” where people who believe that they are the subject of surveillance and government persecution lay out their grievances and compare experiences. Less than a week ago he ominously posted: “Has anyone here even been encouraged by your handler to kill with the promise of freedom?” The AP reports that his body laid at the scene for hours, as the investigation continued to unfold.

Jason Derfuss, a student that May targeted early in the incident, managed to get away and hide, only realizing later that the books in his bag had actually saved his life. “He was about 5 feet from me, but he hit my books,” said Derfuss on his Facebook page. “Books one minute earlier I had checked out of the library, books that should not have stopped the bullet. But they did.” On Facebook, he shows off pictures of the books with bullet holes blown partially through them, grim mementos of a sad, chaotic day at FSU.

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