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In Dalton, Georgia, students and faculty were plunged into a lockdown and subsequent evacuation after a well-liked social studies teacher barricaded himself in a classroom and fired a handgun at Dalton High School. Police arrested 53-year-old social studies teacher Jesse Randall Davidson after he barricaded himself alone inside a classroom and fired shots from a pistol as a principal tried to enter. The incident began at about 11:30 a.m. when Davidson refused to let students into his classroom while he was in his planning period. When the principal put a key in the door in an attempt to enter, Davidson fired a shot from a handgun through an exterior window of the classroom. The school went into lockdown and police quickly arrived and evacuated the immediate area around his classroom. After about 30 to 45 minutes, Davidson agreed to surrender and was taken into custody without further incident. Dalton police spokesman Bruce Frazier said there is no evidence Davidson was trying to fire at anyone.
Dalton police said the school resource officer, who has a close relationship with school staff, was at the junior high school when the incident began and then came to Davidson’s classroom. The officer was able to speak to the teacher and persuade him to leave his room without harming anyone. “We’re very, very proud of this officer and everything that he did to render this horrible situation safe as quick as what he did,” Dalton police Assistant Chief Cliff Cason said.
No students were in the classroom and the only injury was to a student who hurt her ankle while running away. Police confirmed that the teacher was Jesse Randal Davidson, 53. He taught social studies, and served as play-by-play voice of the school’s football team. Davidson had been at the school since 2004 and was recognized as the school’s “top teacher” in 2012. Davidson has been charged with “aggravated assault, carrying weapon on school grounds, terroristic threats, reckless conduct, possession of gun during commission of a crime, and disrupting public school,” according to Dalton Police. Police did not release any explanation for what motivated the incident. Principal Steve Bartoo said Davidson was an “excellent teacher” who was “well thought of in our building.”
According to a sheriff’s report obtained by The Associated Press, deputies in Dade County-where Davidson lives, had three rifles taken away after setting the family car ablaze at his home two years ago. Authorities seized the rifles for safe-keeping and took him to a hospital for a mental evaluation after he torched the Mitsubishi Outlander on Aug. 13, 2016. In that incident, a deputy arrived to find heavy smoke and flames pouring from the Mitsubishi. The deputy told Davidson’s wife Lisa and their daughter Megan to seek safety in his patrol car. Davidson’s adult son, Johnny, told the deputy that his father “was not acting like himself and was sitting down with a rifle in the back yard watching the vehicle on fire.” Johnny Davidson was eventually able to talk his father into giving up the gun. Davidson’s wife told the deputy they had argued about financial troubles that morning and had filed for bankruptcy in late 2015.
Two other reports from Dalton Police in Whitfield County show Davidson has been hospitalized at least three times in recent years as people worried about his state of mind. In March 2016, Davidson walked into the Dalton Police headquarters lobby and told a wild story including his suspicions that someone had been murdered. Detectives couldn’t verify any truth to the story and Davidson was taken to the hospital after expressing thoughts of hurting himself. In January 2017, school employees and a police officer began searching for Davidson after he went missing. He was later found sitting on a curb a few blocks from campus, being propped up by two school staff members.

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