Croatan HS speaks on former student injured in Pensacola Naval Air Station shooting


CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT) – A shooting at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida left three people dead and eight others hurt. One of the injured is Cape Carteret native, Ryan Blackwell.

He graduated from Croatan High School in 2010. Principal Kay Zimarino describes the former Cougar as kind, sweet and a mentor.

Blackwell is a two-time wrestling state champion. Former wrestling coach, Jerry Meaney said he was also part of the cross country team.

The wrestler was selected as the most outstanding male athlete at his high school and was the first Cougar to sign with a collegiate team.

Zimarino and Meaney said his character is a reflection of how he responded to Friday’s shooting.

“Knowing Ryan and his experiences here, the things that I described that he’s determined and he’s tough, he’s focused…it sounds like he really used all of those skills again as an adult in a stuation that no one ever wants to be in,” said Zimarino.

Meaney said he was shocked to hear of the incident, but believes Blackwell is someone who rises to the occasion.

“Not the least surprised that he fought hard to get himself out of that deadly situation there and helped others. Always proud of him, I still am,” said Meaney.

9OYS reached out the naval base in Pensacola to hear of Blackwell’s condition, but did not receive a call back.

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)- The City of Gulf Breeze is sending prayers and support for the recovery of Ryan Blackwell and other victims from the Pensacola Naval Air Station shooting.

Ryan Blackwell, an Eastern North Carolina native and former Croatan High School wrestler, is recovering after he was shot three times on Friday.

During his time spent in Carteret County, he won two state titles with his sport and accumulated numerous awards including all-conference selections and ‘Most Outstanding Male Athlete’ in 2010 at his high school.

Blackwell is currently the assistant wrestling coach at Gulf Breeze High School in Florida.

The City of Gulf Breeze released a facebook post on December 6 stating, “Gulf Breeze City Hall sends prayers and support for the recovery of Gulf Breeze High School assistant wrestling coach Ryan Blackwell. Coach Ryan is active duty Navy and was shot three times this morning in the senseless act of violence which killed three military people, injuring eleven in the Aviation Building. Coach Ryan’s thoughts were with his team before going into surgery, as Coach Ryan called head wrestling coach Dave Daily of Gulf Breeze Wrestling Club to tell him he won’t make this weekend’s wrestling tournament. Coach Ryan is in stable condition. Coach Ryan’s wife Carly (Helm) Blackwell is a 2007 Gulf Breeze graduate. Our prayers are with the injured including the two Escambia County Sheriff Office Deputies. ”

Four people, including the shooter, were killed on December 6.

The assault was the second at a U.S. Navy base this week and prompted a massive law enforcement response and a lockdown at the base.

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