The use of deadly force against a man allegedly shooting at officers in the May 18 incident was appropriate a Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) report states.
Released last week, the report is the culmination of an investigation into actions of High Springs Police Sergeant Charles Harper who responded to a distress call at High Springs Community School earlier this year.
Harper discharged his weapon after an armed 63-year-old Robert Nodine fired several shots from a handgun, police say. Nodine was ultimately taken down by gunfire from law enforcement officers.
The reported concluded that the actions of Harper “constituted a lawful use of deadly force in legitimate self-defense of others.”
An internal investigation by the High Springs Police Department (HSPD) also cleared Harper of any wrongdoing in the incident.
In a letter to Harper, HSPD Chief James Troiano wrote, “Your actions on that day demonstrated to me heroism and valour beyond the normal call of duty as you risked your life to stop the actions of a man determined to cause harm to himself and others. Let the record reflect, not only did this man arm himself with a loaded revolver, he fired four rounds at you, two of which struck the tree you were using for cover.”
He also wrote to Harper, “You are truly a hero and a shining example for all serving in our law enforcement profession.”
Responding to the school on May 18 when a 9-1-1 call was made around 12:51 p.m. were both Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) deputies and HSPD officers.
Police say Nodine became irate while at the school, and while being escorted off the campus the grandfather was reportedly able to arm himself.
Nodine challenged a deputy and a police officer, according to reports. The incident escalated and police opened fire on Nodine who was the only person injured in the exchange of fire.
The shooting occurred in a breezeway into the elementary school office. Meanwhile, the school was in lockdown for much of that afternoon as deputies restricted access to and from school grounds.
Most of the school’s children had already been released because of an abbreviated Wednesday schedule. But some 170 students remained on campus for after-school activities when the shooting occurred.
Harper was placed on administrative leave, but returned to work in the week following the incident.
Nodine was initially taken to an area hospital for treatment, but was later booked into the Alachua County Jail.
He remains in jail on a $700,000 bond and is facing five felonies including attempted homicide, possession and firing of a weapon on school property and trespassing.
He entered a plea of not guilty on Aug. 9 and is awaiting trial.
Troiano said Harper and Deputy Brian Phillips are to be formally honored at an upcoming High Springs City Commission meeting.
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