A Florida police officer shot an ax-wielding man who tried to enter an elementary school last week and threatened others, including the cop who shot him. What’s more, the suspect — Eric David Hurley — just days before had completed mental health treatment and was released from probation.
What are the details?
Hurley, 37, tried to enter Ruth N. Upson Elementary School in Jacksonville on Friday afternoon, WJXT-TV reported.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
The school’s entry clerk said Hurley was holding an ax over his shoulder and stated to her, “You want to be next?” the station noted.
Diana Greene, superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, said the suspect wasn’t allowed inside the building and that a school safety assistant followed him a short distance to ensure there was no longer a threat to the school, WJXT said.
Others along a sidewalk said Hurley followed them with the ax, at times holding it above his head, the station said, citing a police report. Those individuals entered Murray Hill Church on Post Street and hid in a classroom, WJXT reported, adding that Hurley got inside but soon departed.
Duval County Public Schools police officers encountered Hurley in the church’s parking lot and told him to put down the ax — but to no avail, the station said.
“As the subject came toward one of the police officers, the officers gave him verbal warnings to drop the ax …” Police Chief Greg Burton said, according to WJXT. “At that time, the subject threatened the officer with the ax. The subject then was shot at least one time as the officer discharged his service weapon.”
Alexis Daniels told the station she was looking out the front window of her home across the street and saw the confrontation.
“He immediately started walking toward the cop as calmly as can be, taking big wide steps with the ax raised,” Daniels recounted to WJXT. “I couldn’t hear anything, but I could assume the cop was saying, ‘Drop your weapon. Drop your weapon.’ He wasn’t dropping his weapon and kept approaching the cop.”
Image source: YouTube screenshot
Daniels added to the station that “three shots” were fired, after which Hurley “stumbled back and still had the weapon drawn. And two more shots and he was gone. He fell to the floor.”
What happened to the suspect?
Hurley was hospitalized in critical condition, WJXT said. He was absentee-booked on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill, trespassing on school property with a weapon, and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, the Florida Times-Union reported, citing jail records.
He remained held on a $110,000 bond as of Tuesday evening, the station said, adding that records show Hurley’s arraignment hearing is scheduled for Oct. 31.
Arrest report details what police say led to ax-wielding man being shot by DCPS officer
Mental health evaluations
Three days before he allegedly tried to enter the elementary school, Hurley completed Duval County Mental Health Court, the Times-Union said, adding that a judge then terminated his probation for a 2018 felony auto theft case in which police said they recovered “a small hatchet,” according to court records.
Hurley approached an employee of a car dealership after hours and said he needed a car and had a gun, the paper said, citing the arrest report. When the employee went to get him a key, Hurley stole a Nissan, the Times-Union said.
The vehicle was recovered outside a Brunswick, Georgia, motel — but the paper said officers found a hatchet inside a backpack in the car.
Following a court-ordered psychological evaluation, a judge ruled Hurley was incompetent for trial and committed him to a state hospital, the Times-Union said, after which he underwent a series of Mental Health Court reviews.
After being found competent, Hurley pleaded guilty to grand theft auto on Sept. 28, 2020, the paper said, adding that court records indicate he was placed on five years of supervised release.
(H/T: The Police Tribune)