TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Hillsborough County deputies believe a “disgruntled divorced husband” took his own life at the Westchase school where his ex-wife works.
“Everybody was scared about the situation,” said 7th grade student Nicolas Armijo-Sanchez, “We were like really scared.”
Sanchez is a student at Farnell Middle School.
He began his day like any typical Friday and got on the bus.
‘Snapchat, it started saying…somebody died in the school,” he explained.
Suddenly the news began to spread like wildfire on social media that someone had shot themselves on campus.
That’s exactly where Nicolas’ bus was headed.
“I was scared,” he said. “I was thinking what if someone picked up the gun or what they used to kill…and started killing more people?”
The sheriff’s office was called to Farnell Middle School at 8:30 a.m. on Friday.
In a news conference, Sheriff Chad Chronister said a man shot himself in front of the school during the early drop-off period. He died from his injuries near a school entrance.
News Channel 8 is not naming the man at this time for privacy reasons.
Two children witnessed the man taking his own life, Chronister said. They ran to the front office, where staff contacted police. The school immediately went into lockdown and deputies arrived “within seconds.”
Chronister said the children are currently meeting with grief counselors.
“You can imagine the trauma that these two children endured and the anxiety that’s occurring, because they don’t exactly know what’s happening at this point,” Chronister said.
Investigators are still working to positively identify the deceased man. Chronister said the man is believed to be the ex-husband of a faculty member.
“We believe his ex-wife works here,” Chronister said. “He’s a disgruntled divorced husband, and maybe this was his last act of defiance. He wanted to come and prove a point to his ex-wife, a faculty member who works here.”
Chronister reiterated that the investigation is still in its early stages, but 34 children were on campus at the time of the incident.
The photos below show a line of hundreds of parents waiting to pick up their children.
“They had assured all the parents there wasn’t an active situation or anything like that so we knew there wasn’t any danger, but at the same time we were kind of urgent to get him out,” said Ed Ferraro, the step-father to one of the students.
Farnell Middle School operated on a modified schedule for the remainder of the day, but parents were able to pick up their children early,
“Students and faculty were not in danger at any point,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a news release.
This is a developing story. Stay up to date on the latest from News Channel 8 on-air and on the go with the free WFLA News Channel 8 mobile app.