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"Absolutely fit to be a teacher" - Dalton principal on teacher who fired gun in classroom

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DALTON, Ga. (WTVC): The Dalton High School teacher arrested for bringing a gun to school Wednesday waived his first court appearance that was set for Thursday afternoon. He's set to be in court next Tuesday.

Students will be back to school Friday. Ahead of that, we got a look inside the classroom where Jesse Randal Davidson fired a shot that went through the window.

DHS Principal Steve Bartoo told us about the tense moments leading up to the shot being fired.

"He yelled out again 'don't come in here, don't come in here' I turned and he said I have a gun."

Davidson barricaded himself inside the classroom, then fired the shot through a window.

"I wasn't really scared until he told me he had a gun, and then the gunshot as well."

As this was happening, there was no School Resource Officer at the school of about 1,900 students.

"I radioed for our SRO, our SRO happened to be at our middle school at the time."

Pat Holloway, director of communications for Dalton Public Schools, said the high school has a dedicated SRO, but "currently a new SRO is coming to work at the middle school next week and the DHS SRO had been covering the middle school and was just over there checking in."

Bartoo says it was a normal day until this incident, and there were no signs of what Davidson was about to do.

"I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, and we didn't receive any reports of anything out of the ordinary until the event took place."

But there are two incidents involving Davidson with the Dalton Police Department. In 2016, he told police he was involved in the murder of a woman he had an affair with. The woman was never confirmed to have existed and the report states he "may be delusional" and "it doesn't appear at this time anything he said is accurate."

Then in 2017, he was reported missing from the school and was later found on the side of a street with no signs of anything physically wrong, but did not respond to anyone who tried helping. Both times he was taken to the hospital and no charges were filed. Given this history, we asked the principal if Davidson was fit to be a teacher.

"I think he was fit to teach that day, absolutely fit to be a teacher," Bartoo said.

When asked more about Davidson's behavior according to the police reports, school officials said they can't comment since it involves an employee's medical history.

We checked with the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office, as well as Tunnel Hill, Cohutta and Varnell police departments about any incidents involving Davidson. There were none reported.

This is one of several incidents sparking a national debate over whether teachers should be armed with guns at school.

When asked about that Bartoo said, "I couldn't answer that for you, I just know what happens here at our school and how we respond to it and how we do a better job of maybe preparing for something like that in the future."

We have asked school officials for Davidson's personnel files. They say they're working with their attorney to find out which documents will be deemed as public records.

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