High Springs mourns police hero of 2011 shootout


Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 4:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 4:24 p.m.

High Springs Police Sgt. Chuck Harper, lauded as a hero for his involvement in a 2011 shootout with a man at High Springs Community School, died Tuesday of cancer.

Police Chief Steve Holley said Harper exemplified the bravery and dedication of officers in his work, particularly for his role in the school incident.

"People involved in public safety are almost defined by the fact that they move toward danger, and on that day, he didn't have any backup — fortunately, there was a school resource officer — and he went there by himself," Holley said.

"I'm sure he was afraid. You don't go into a situation of a man with a gun without feeling some kind of fear, but he did his duty. He did what he was supposed to do."

The incident happened May 18, 2011, at the High Springs Community School and involved Robert Allan Nodine, of High Springs.

Nodine went to the campus because he was angry about a custody issue involving his grandchild, who was a student there.

After being escorted to his car by the resource officer, Alachua County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Philips, Nodine armed himself with a handgun and got into a shootout with Harper and Philips.

Nodine was wounded and hospitalized for several weeks before being booked Aug. 6 into the county jail. He later was convicted in a jury trial of attempted manslaughter, assault and weapons charges. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Judith Weaver, a teacher at the school, said taps was played at morning announcements Thursday in honor of Harper.

"He is special to us because he stopped a shooter from harming children and teachers on our campus with his quick response," Weaver said in an email to The Sun. "There are many High Springs residents who have memories of him helping them in his role as police office/neighbor."

Holley said Harper worked at the department for about seven years and received his police training at Lake City Community College.

Harper also started the department's K-9 unit with Aggie — named after crime novelist Agatha Christie — a golden retriever trained to detect drugs.

Holley said Harper is survived by one daughter and two sons.

Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of High Springs.

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