News Column

Three Dead at Delaware Courthouse Shooting

February 11, 2013

A gunman opened fire in a Wilmington, Del. courthouse, Monday, leaving three people dead and two injured. The gunman was among the dead. Two women also were killed, one of whom was reported to be the gunman's wife.

Two law enforcement officers were injured in the barrage.

Officials said there was an exchange of gunfire and investigators were still piecing together what happened.

Investigators are determining whether the gunman was shot by police or took his own life, said Sgt. Paul Shavack, a Delaware State Police spokesman.

Police would not identify the gunman but said he was a white man between 50 and 60 years old.

The shootings at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington took place around 8:15 a.m. EST, just as courtrooms were readying for the day. The shooting happened in the building's lobby; no one involved had gone through the security checkpoint, authorities said.

The city's mayor confirmed to news organizations that the suspected shooter, a man, killed his wife before shooting others. Police wouldn't elaborate on the gunman's relationship with the victims, but said the attack was targeted.

"This was not a random shooting," Shavack said.

Investigators don't believe the shooter had any type of note on him, police said.

Authorities searched the floors of the courthouse throughout the morning. Officials said they did not believe the gunman had an accomplice, but said the search was the norm in such a situation.

"They went from floor to floor, room to room," Shavack said.

Police said the two officers wounded were Delaware Capitol Police officers. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening. The Capitol Police force protects state-owned facilities in Delaware.

One officer was a 50-year-old man who had served for less than a year; the other was a 42-year-old man who was a seven-year veteran.

The two are "doing well," Shavack said. The bullets struck the officers' protective vests.

Ralph Hilton, 61, said he was at work when he received a call from his sister, Victoria Warren, who was at the courthouse for jury duty.

"I'm scared," she said, crying to him. "I heard gunshots."

She was hiding with a few others in a small room, Hilton said.

People who were inside the courthouse at the time of the shooting were sequestered, Shavack said. Early Monday afternoon, police had finished interviewing them and they were in the process of being released.

Emma Harding was on a lower level of the complex when she heard three gun shots and police shouting "shots are fired, shots are fired."

The 21-year-old parking attendant headed for the Dunkin' Donuts shop in the courthouse. She said about 100 people ran into the small area, hiding behind the counter and in two closets.

Many were shaken up or crying, and some had lost their shoes in the scramble to escape, she said.

Brittany Mangrum, 24, was headed up the courthouse stairs to pay a fine when the doors opened and people began to run from inside.

"I decided to turn around and run with them," she said.

Source: Copyright The Philadelphia Inquirer 2013

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