PORT ST. JOE, Fla. — A man in court for an alimony hearing opened fire Tuesday in a judge's conference room, killing the judge and two other people before being wounded by a sheriff, authorities said.
Clyde Melvin, 62, of nearby Apalachicola, was immediately taken into custody and charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated battery with a firearm.
Melvin, who was released from the Gulf Pines Hospital after treatment for a gunshot wound to the neck, appeared in court looking dazed and wearing a jail-issued orange jump suit.
Melvin's former wife, Inez Eleanor Huckeba, was reported in stable condition with a head wound that appeared to be minor, State Atty. James Appleman said.
Judge W. L. Bailey, a 14-year veteran of the bench, was presiding over a property hearing between Melvin and Huckeba when the shooting broke out in a conference room in his chambers.
Kathy Weathers, secretary for Thomas B. Ingles, Huckeba's lawyer, said one motion asked that Melvin be declared in contempt of court for failure to pay alimony.
Ingles, who apparently tried to disarm the gunman, was the first person killed, the prosecutor said.
"Judge Bailey, it appears, tried to flee from that conference room into his office. He was shot and killed," Appleman said.
Peggy White Paulk, a relative of Huckeba's who was at the hearing as a witness, fled and was shot to death on the stairway between the first and second floors of the courthouse, he said.
According to Appleman, Melvin then grabbed his former wife and fled across a catwalk that connects the courthouse to the roof of the county jail, where Huckeba was shot. As Melvin turned to fire on Gulf County sheriff's deputies on the ground, Sheriff Al Harrison shot him, Appleman said.