Fact Check

FSU Student Saved by a Book

FSU student Jason Derfuss survived a campus shooting after a bullet intended for him lodged in a book he was carrying in his backpack.

Published Nov. 20, 2014


Claim:   FSU student Jason Derfuss survived a campus shooting after a bullet intended for him lodged in a book he was carrying in his backpack.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, November 2014]

Earlier tonight there was a shooting at FSU, right as I was leaving Strozier. I didn't know this at the time, but the Shooter targeted me first. The shot I heard behind me I did not feel, nor did it hit me at all. He was about 5 feet from me, but he hit my books. Books one minute earlier I had checked out of the library, books that should not have stopped the bullet. But they did. I learned this about 3 hours after it happened, I never thought to check my bag. I assumed I wasn't a target, I assumed I was fine. The truth is I was almost killed tonight and God intervened. I know conceptually He can do all things, but to physically witness the impossible and to be surrounded by such grace is indescribable. To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen.


Origins:   Jason Derfuss, a 21-year-old student at Florida State University (FSU), barely escaped injury during a shooting that took place at that school on the morning of 20 November 2014. According to a reddit post by Derfuss, he was the "initial target of the gunman" who opened fire at FSU as Derfuss was leaving the school's Strozier Library, but the bullet that came his way passed through his backpack and lodged in one of his books — a circumstance Derfuss didn't notice until after he had returned home:

I was leaving Strozier when I heard a shot behind me. I turned around and saw the gunman shoot one person who collapsed. I turned and ran to my car before driving off. There were a ton of people stuck in the library when this happened. I went home so I [didn't] have any other details.

I got home and noticed two of my books were destroyed. They stopped the bullet. I was the initial target of the gunman. I've posted pictures of the bullet, the books, and my backpack. I'm beyond lucky to not have been injured at all. Thank you all for your support, your comments have comforted me.

Just got home from the station. Gave my statement, the police came by around 3:30 to collect the evidence.

Derfuss also recounted his experience for WESH television news:

"I heard what was unmistakably a gunshot behind me, and initially I kind of tried to rationalize it as a firecracker, but I knew exactly what it was," said Jason Derfuss, an FSU student. "He gunned down another student right in front of me about 50 feet away."

Derfuss said the gunman also fired several gunshots at him, but the books in his backpack stopped the bullets from striking his body.

Derfuss posted another account of the shooting (quoted in the Example block above) to his Facebook page along with multiple photos of his backpack and bullet-ridden book, including the following:

Last updated:   20 November 2014

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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