July 18, 2018 / 3:43 PM / 9 months ago

Georgia teacher sentenced to two years for firing gun in classroom

(Reuters) - A Georgia high school teacher who fired a handgun after he barricaded himself inside an empty classroom was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading guilty to charges stemming from the incident, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Under the sentence imposed on Tuesday, Jesse Randal Davidson, 53, also must serve eight years of probation after his release, according to the office of Conasauga Judicial Circuit District Attorney Bert Poston in Whitfield County, Georgia.

Davidson was arrested after a tense standoff on Feb. 28 that caused no serious injuries, but prompted a lockdown of Dalton High School about 90 miles (145 km) north of Atlanta, the Georgia capital.

The lockdown and evacuation of students came as school officials around the country were still on edge after the murders of 17 students and educators in a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, two weeks before.

The incident began when a group of students tried to enter a classroom and found that Davidson would not let them in.

When the principal arrived and tried opening the door with a key, a single gunshot was heard from inside the room, prompting the lockdown and evacuation. A girl hurt her ankle while fleeing.

Davidson surrendered after about 30 to 45 minutes.

Investigators later determined that Davidson’s goal was most likely to be killed by the police, Poston’s office said in a news release.

Davidson cooperated with investigators and admitted as part of a negotiated agreement to charges of first-degree criminal damage to property, carrying a weapon within a school safety zone and disrupting school operations, the release said.

Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris accepted the guilty plea and negotiated plea agreement, which requires Davidson to seek mental health treatment and bars him from working with children or owning a gun, it said.

Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Frank McGurty and Susan Thomas

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