“I didn’t see anyone,” he said again, this time, to the female reporter.
Sky Bouche was being taken to jail that Friday evening, hours after authorities said he drove to a high school in Ocala, Fla., carrying a shotgun hidden in a guitar case. The 19-year-old, a former student of the school, went to the bathroom, where he put on a tactical vest and gloves. He then shot one round from his sawed-off shotgun through a classroom door, injuring one student, investigators said.
The shooting happened at about 8:30 a.m. Friday, on the 19th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. It also came just months after a gruesome shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reignited a nationwide debate over guns and created some of the loudest voices calling for gun control: the students themselves.
Students at Forest High School, like many others across the country, had planned a walkout Friday morning to protest gun violence, in observance of the Columbine anniversary. Instead, they experienced their own traumatic event.
As he made his way toward the police car flanked by five uniformed officers, Bouche told reporters he’s “sorry” to the wounded student.
“It doesn’t make it better, anyway,” he said.
Bouche is facing several charges, including terrorism, aggravated assault with a firearm and possession of a firearm on school property, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office said Bouche went to the high school “with the intention of causing harm to the students and to invoke fear in the community.”
Bouche told detectives that he had initially planned “some type of shooting” on April 13 but changed his mind, the sheriff’s office said.
“He then began researching different types of mass shootings and chose to target a school because he thought it would gather more media attention,” the sheriff’s office said. “Bouche also expressed to detectives that he felt ignored, and made statements that he could potentially conduct another shooting in the future.”
Bouche, in a jailhouse interview with the Ocala Star Banner, said that he bought the shotgun without a background check from a private seller online a week after the Parkland massacre. Shooting, he said, was his only way out of a violent home life.
“It’s not anger, it’s not hatred, it’s an adrenaline rush that, you know, I’m about to do something,” he told the paper. “I spend most of my time in a room alone so I’m getting this rush, so that’s what I was feeling.”
A sheriff’s deputy, who also was a resource officer at the school, arrested Bouche minutes after he fired that one shot, authorities said. The wounded student was reported to have non-life-threatening injuries.
One of the teachers, Kelly McManis-Panasuk, said she saw Bouche in the hallway near her classroom just after a screaming student came running by. McManis-Panasuk talked to Bouche, who was her student before he dropped out.
“His hands were up, and he said he wanted to be arrested,” McManis-Panasuk told the Ocala Star Banner, adding that Bouche told her he is mentally ill. “I asked, ‘Did you shoot a gun?’ He said he did shoot a gun.”
The Washington Post was unable to reach the teacher Saturday, but she told the Ocala Star Banner that her former student had been abused by his family and that this time, “he was done.”
“He wanted to be arrested,” McManis-Panasuk said. “I really don’t think he meant to shoot the gun. I think it really was an accident. He just wanted someone to listen to him.”
Bouche, wearing a striped red jail uniform, appeared in court for the first time Saturday, the Ocala Star Banner reported. He’s been placed on suicide watch.
The shooting at the county’s second-largest high school sparked a small panic in the city of nearly 60,000 people.
Parents rushed to the school to pick up rattled children, only to be directed elsewhere by sheriff’s deputies. The sheriff’s office and other officials tried to squash rumors that there were other shooters at other schools. Other schools in Marion County were placed on alert as a precaution, Woods said.
One picture, which appears to have been taken from inside the school, showed a tangle of desks, chairs and books piled up against a door.
Correction: An earlier version of this article reported that Sky Bouche told reporters he “didn’t kill anyone.” Bouche said he “didn’t see anyone” when he allegedly shot at a classroom door.
Cleve R. Wootson contributed to this article.