SALT LAKE CITY — An accused murderer was slipped a gun by his girlfriend and shot his way out of a court building today, killing an attorney and wounding a court bailiff before being shot and captured, police said.
Ronnie Gardner, shackled at his hands and waist, broke free from guards shortly after his arrival at the basement of the Salt Lake County Jail from Utah State Prison for a court hearing, witnesses said.
When Gardner got out of the vehicle, "a woman slipped him a gun and he started shooting," Chief Sheriff's Deputy Charles Shepherd said.
The convict fatally shot lawyer Mark Burdell, who "just happened to be in the area," in the head and wounded court bailiff Nick Kirk in the abdomen, Shepherd said.
Surrounded on Lawn
The attorney was dead on arrival at Holy Cross Hospital. The bailiff was hospitalized in serious condition.
The armed prisoner, apparently shot in the chest by the bailiff, then ran to the front lawn area of the building and was surrounded by police officers.
"He hesitated for three or four seconds, ultimately threw the gun up in the air," said a witness, Deputy County Atty. Richard McKelvie.
Shepherd said Darcy Perry, 34, believed to have been an accomplice in the escape attempt, was taken into custody.
Gardner, accused of killing a bartender several months ago, was being transported to 3rd District Judge James Sawaya's courtroom in the Metropolitan Hall of Justice from the state prison, where he was being held on past convictions, Shepherd said.