Bailiffs kill man who fired shots inside Florida courthouse
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Bailiffs shot and killed a man who opened fire in the lobby of a downtown courthouse Wednesday afternoon, sheriff’s officials said.
One of the two bailiffs who fired at the unidentified man suffered a non-life-threatening shoulder wound, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Bordner said. At least four other people were in the lobby at the time but no one else was hurt, Bordner said.
The gunman entered the courthouse shortly after 1 p.m. Wednesday and approached a security checkpoint wearing a backpack. A deputy ordered him to remove the backpack and place it on a conveyor belt, but the man instead threw it on the ground and opened fire with a semiautomatic handgun, Bordner said.
Deputies B.J. Lyons and Marvin Glover returned fire, fatally wounding the man, who died later at a St. Petersburg hospital. Lyons, 58, who suffered the shoulder wound, was released from the hospital by late afternoon.
Cassandra Grady, 40, and her 15-year-old daughter had gone to the courthouse for a hearing and saw the gunman before the shooting. Grady told the St. Petersburg Times the man asked her where he could file a petition, and that she saw a gun handle in his backpack.
“I told my daughter, ‘Run for your life.’ Then I started running. I was trying to run to warn them. He started shooting. I heard a round of shots: pop-pop-pop, pop-pop-pop.”
Grady was shaken but grateful. “I just want to say, ‘Thank you, God.’ It could have been us.”
Pinellas County Clerk of Court Ken Burke said one of his office’s windows was shattered by a bullet. None of the clerk’s staff was hurt, but he said a worker had just emerged from the elevator when the gunshots erupted.
The courthouse was closed after the shooting and is expected to resume normal business on Thursday. Investigators entered the courthouse a few hours after the shooting after a careful search of the gunman’s backpack.
Authorities did not release additional information about the man or any motive Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s unfortunate that a life was lost, but the public, employees, judges and others in (the) courthouse were properly protected,” said Judge Robert Morris, the chief judge of Florida’s Sixth Judicial Circuit.
See, this way all you have to do, is bring a couple of buckets and mops. Easy deal.