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One killed, four wounded in Beaumont, Texas, shooting

March 14, 2012|By Michael Muskal and Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Reporting from Los Angeles and Houston   — A gunman opened fire near the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont, Texas, on Wednesday, killing at least one person and wounding three before he himself was wounded in a shootout with authorities and eventually captured, police said.

The gunman, who was not identified, was in a hospital in stable condition, Beaumont police Officer Doug Kibodeaux said in a telephone interview. The shooter surrendered to city police and sheriff’s SWAT teams after briefly holding at least four people hostage in a building at a nearby construction site, Kibodeaux said.

There was no immediate motive known for the attack, but authorities in the city of 118,000 about 90 miles east of Houston believe that at least two of the wounded are relatives of the gunman, Kibodeaux said.

The investigation into the incident is continuing, but preliminary findings paint a picture of 20 minutes of terror around the courthouse, which includes offices for police and sheriff’s deputies.

Kibodeaux said the gunman arrived in the area by truck at about 11:20 a.m. and left his vehicle in the road, several blocks away. He walked to the courthouse, where he is believed to have had an appointment, though the specifics of his court business are still being probed.

He reached the courthouse, then returned to his truck and took a long gun from the vehicle and went back, Kibodeaux said. The gun is believed to be a carbine or a similar non-automatic weapon. In front of the courthouse, the gunman began shooting.

He apparently hit an elderly woman who “happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Kibodeaux said. At least three other people were wounded and hospitalized. Two of those are believed to be relatives of the shooter, though the relationships are unknown.

One of the victims was further injured when the suspect hit her with his truck while trying to escape.

While in the truck, the gunman exchanged fire with authorities and was wounded. He left the truck and fled to a building at a nearby construction area; there he took several hostages, Kibodeaux said.

SWAT officers talked to the gunman by telephone and he released an unknown number of those he was holding captive before surrendering with the last four hostages. None of the hostages were believed to be injured.

The gunman was then taken to a hospital for treatment of his wounds. Charges are pending, Kibodeaux said.

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michael.muskal@latimes.com 

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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