A man wielding an ax, frightening people and trying to get into a Jacksonville elementary school who was wounded by campus police has now been shot again by law enforcement and killed.
That development was revealed in the State Attorney’s Office’s newly released investigation into the school police officer’s shooting that was deemed justifiable.
Eric David Hurley, 37, had been charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, two counts of aggravated assault and trespassing on school property with a weapon after the Oct. 7, 2022, scare at Ruth N. Upson Elementary on Dancy Street. Court records show he was released on $110,000 bond on Dec. 29, 2022.
While awaiting trial, the State Attorney’s Office review said he was shot and killed in an unrelated out-of-county officer-involved critical incident. Although it doesn’t specify when and where, Hurley’s obituary says he died on March 4 — the same day the Levy County Sheriff’s Office reported a fatal shooting by deputies. The age and gender match Hurley.
Deputies had been called to a report of a person attempting to commit suicide by overdose and found a 37-year-old man armed with a handgun, according to the Levy Sheriff’s Office. They ordered him to drop his weapon, but he rushed at them and both deputies opened fire.
Before the lockdown at Upson Elementary, Hurley had graduated three days earlier from Duval County Mental Health Court. A judge then terminated his probation for a 2018 felony auto theft case where police said they recovered “a small hatchet.”
Then at the school at about 2:30 p.m. he walked onto the campus armed with a double-sided ax and tried to enter one of the buildings. The school’s data entry clerk who was on front desk duty could see him in the security video carrying the ax on a shoulder, according to the State Attorney’s Office report.
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She walked outside and found him standing next to some parents and asked what he was doing. “Do you want to be next,” he replied, the report said. She returned to the office and immediately called a “Code Red” to put the school on lockdown.
A mother and grandmother of a student told police he then followed them aggressively, moving the ax from one hand to the other and raised it with both hands over his head, the report said. They were able to find refuge inside nearby Murray Hill Baptist Church on Post Street.
A mailman making a delivery at the church also saw Hurley with the ax and asked how he was doing. He was sweating profusely but did not respond and followed the mailman into the parking lot, the report said.
School police were on their way and encountered Hurley still carrying the ax outside the front door of the church. Both the mailman and another officer said Hurley aggressively walked toward the other officer, who ordered him to put the weapon down. Hurley’s hands were up near his chest with the ax head raised, and he was within 6 to 8 feet of the officer when he fired, according to the investigation.
Hurley dropped the ax but was still standing and was told to stay away from the weapon. He armed himself again, and the officer opened fire again until he was no longer a threat, the report said. He survived his critical injuries and was later jailed.
The State Attorney’s Office concluded the school officer’s “use of deadly force was necessary to defend himself and protect others, including children, from imminent death or great bodily harm. We will take no further action in this matter.” His name was not released under the state’s Marsy’s Law for victim privacy.
It’s unclear why Hurley had left Jacksonville, but just a day before his death his bondsman was notified that he would need to be in court March 28 for a pretrial hearing, according to court records.
Before Hurley posted bond, his attorney had sought a reduction citing his mother, stepfather and grandmother reside in Jacksonville and that he would live with family. Other factors listed included he had lived in Jacksonville since 2009, completed mental health court, had never failed to appear in court and his family would provide financial resources.
The motion was filed Dec. 20, but the judge never had to decide because Hurley was able to secure the $110,000 bond before the scheduled Jan. 4 hearing.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Ax-wielding man at Jacksonville school freed and shot again by police
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