Did Purse-Swinging Hero Ginger Littleton Do the Right Thing?
She became an instant American folk hero for the way she clobbered gunman Clay Duke with her purse. There's even a Facebook page for her, "Ginger-purse-swinging-Littleton: a National Hero."
But some have doubts about the wisdom of the heroic grandmother's courageous deed, including Ginger Littleton herself!
"I have three wonderful daughters and they said, 'Mom, are you just stupid? What were you thinking?' " she told reporters during a press conference.
According to experts, Littleton did not do the right thing by trying to save the day.
"She's lucky she's alive today," says former New York police hostage negotiator Wally Zeins, who analyzed the Panama City school board shooting tape for INSIDE EDITION. "Her response was a kneejerk reaction; it was a reaction that did not happen from a thought process. It happened from, 'Oh, these are my friends, I'm going to react!' "
And Littleton's bold heroics put more than just her own life at risk.
"It could have caused chaos for other people because the other people could have panicked, got up, and started charging him and he would have shot more people," Zeins explains.
Superintendent Bill Husfelt also acted bravely, but he too made mistakes, according to Zeins.
"I don't want anybody to get hurt and I've got a feeling that what you want is the cops to come in and kill you because you're mad because you say you're going to die today," Husfelt told the shooter.
"The mere fact of him telling [the shooter], 'You probably want to get shot [and] killed by the police,' was the wrong thing to say, totally. Secondly, his tone of voice was very authoritative, it was very commanding to the hostage-taker," says Zeins. "You treat the hostage-taker like royalty. You speak when spoken to. Don't be argumentative. Don't ask questions. Let them ask questions."
And as for the purse-swinging hero, Zeins says, "She had a guardian angel. Boy, what a lucky lady!"
Meanwhile, the shooting has prompted changes around the country. More school boards are now increasing security at board meetings.