Blair Stokes had planned to pull an all-nighter. It was around 12:30 AM at Strozier Library on the campus of Florida State University in Tallahassee, and she was up on the fourth floor—an annexed part of the building that was difficult to get to. She had procrastinated on a Shakespeare project and was working furiously to catch up before deadline. Suddenly, Stokes was interrupted when a woman booked it up the steps. The stranger calmly announced there was a shooter before disappearing into the stacks.
"I didn't know whether to believer her or if it was a sick joke," the FSU senior with Joan Crawford eyebrows and Harry Potter glasses said. Unsure of what to do, Stokes followed the messenger, alternately texting friends and wondering if a Macbook was thick enough to stop a bullet. Although she never heard a gunshot, the sight of police outside the window confirmed the threat was real. Stokes whipped out her phone again and tweeted, "Guy at library with gun wtf."
Ultimately, the shooter hit three people before Tallahassee police took him down in a torrent of gunfire. Two victims are still hospitalized, and one has been released. Although the gunman's name hasn't been officially disclosed, the Associated Press—citing an an anonymous law enforcement official—is reporting that he was Myron May, an alumnus of the school who went on to become a lawyer.
On Facebook, May presented a smiling, suited-up image to the world. His Facebook page is full of Bible quotes and grandiose talk about the glory of God. He lived in Wewahitchka, Florida, a small Gulf Coast town with a population under 2,000.
Over the summer, May lost a series of family members. "Uncle Cornelius, Aunt Gracie, Aunt Stella, and now Aunt Ada.... my goodness Father," he posted on August 2. "When it rains, it pours. Please slow down taking away my loved ones." Soon after, he began posting Bible verses almost exclusively.
A woman named Abigail Taunton told the AP that May was struggling to get back on his feet after some personal and financial setbacks and was staying in a guest house she owns. At some point he traveled up the state to Tallahassee, where he randomly rattled off roughly half a dozen bullets at students in Strozier. He was killed when he opened fire in the direction of police assembled outside instead of surrendering.
Classes were cancelled Thursday but are set to resume Friday, when the library is scheduled to reopen. Until then, students are left to consider that their college played host to at least the 12th school shooting in America since Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012.
"It's quieter than I've ever seen it on a weekday even though there are a lot of people on campus," said Anne Monroe Haines, a senior. "It's a little surreal because it's a beautiful day and people are somber. It's spooky."