Lithia Springs shooting intentional, teacher ID’d

Authorities identified a longtime math teacher as the man who shot himself in the face Thursday in his Lithia Springs High School classroom. 

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Jonathan Freeman, 43, fired one round from his own, recently acquired handgun. The shooting occurred before students entered the building for the school day, which was cancelled. 

The shooting was intentional, said sheriff’s office Sgt. Jesse Hambrick at a news conference Monday.

While it is the policy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to avoid naming suicide victims, the newspaper is using the teacher’s name due to the public nature of his attempt.

The Douglas County School System does not let teachers have weapons in its schools. Lithia Springs does not have metal detectors. 

The investigation has concluded, but the sheriff’s spokesman said it has two years to pursue charges for possession and use of a firearm on school grounds. 

Hambrick would not say if authorities will or will not seek criminal charges.

“We think that the ethical thing to do is to let him focus on the healing process that he is going through,” he said.  “We will continue to worry about his well-being.”

The teacher brought the weapon to school that day. He purchased the weapon in July.

Hambrick said investigators do not think Freeman intended to harm anyone but himself. He would not say if the teacher left a note.

The shooting does not involve matters related to the teacher’s job. The incident also does not “revolve around any issue with any other employee, student, or administrator at the school,” according to a sheriff’s office statement.

“I don’t know what caused this trigger,” Hambrick said. “They have told me this morning in a meeting that these were personal issues that he was dealing with that he decided to bring to the workplace, and I can’t answer as to why.”

Freeman was hospitalized in stable condition Friday, the latest medical update available.

Few details in the criminal investigation were released before Monday. 

Freeman, a Lithia Springs math teacher since 1999, received the school’s Teacher of the Year honor in 2014-2015, according to a biography posted on the Lithia Springs’ website. 

He is a 1992 graduate of Dacula High School, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in 1996, and studied for a master’s degree at the University of West Georgia, the biography states. 

Freeman served several stints as the mathematics department chair at Lithia Springs, according to the website. 

He previously taught math at Jasper County High School and Oglethorpe County High School. 

He remained in stable condition Friday after he was taken to an undisclosed hospital. 

Officials said students did not see the shooting, which took place about 7:00 a.m. Thursday. School starts about 8:40 a.m. Students were ushered to the gym to wait for returning buses or for their parents to pick them up. School resumed Friday.

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