In the same state that saw a student take down 17 of his classmates with a semi-automatic rifle at the beginning of the year, a former CFL player stopped another tragedy from unfolding in a different Florida High School. Lin-J Shell won the Grey Cup with the Calgary Stampeders in 2014, but he now teaches phys ed at Jean Ribault High School in Jacksonville, Florida (500 kilometers from Parkland, FL). Last week, he was crucial in stopping an armed woman from firing on a group of students.
The woman arrived at the school gym with four adult men who were apparently there to rough up a student of Shell’s who was in a social media feud with the woman’s nephew. The exact details about the motivations behind the fight are unclear, but a brawl soon broke out in the gym.
“She got out of the car, she was irate, basically saying she wasn’t going to let anyone jump on her family,” Shell told CTV of the woman. After the fight started, Shell was engrossed in trying to break it up when he noticed that the woman, who was in the middle of the action, was holding something.
“I came behind the lady and I saw that she had a bag or something over her hand. I looked again and I saw the rear side of a pistol,” he said, “I came from behind her, saw she had a gun, grabbed her hand, put her hand down and hit her elbow. I didn’t want to do anything fast in case she squeezed the trigger while we were still within point blank range of all the kids.” Shell added that he walked the woman away from the action saying to her repeatedly, “Please don’t shoot our kids.”
Shell then called out to one of the school’s armed officers who intervened, forced the woman to drop the weapon and then arrested her. A video posted to Instagram shows Shell attempting to break up the fight before he noticed the woman was armed.
After media attention picked up coverage of the nearly-deadly incident, Shell told reporters he isn’t a hero and was just doing what he would hope others would have done for his kids. He also took the opportunity to speak to the continued gun violence in the United States.
“At the end of the day, the adults need to be adults and we need to figure this thing out because if this is where we’re at in society raising our kids, we have a real problem,” he said. The loudest and most persistent voices on the current gun control debate are still the teenage survivors of the Parkland shooting in February.