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Gunman, an ex-police officer, opens fire at West Virginia courthouse

October 09, 2013|By Alana Semuels
  • A deputy secures an area in front of the federal building in Wheeling, W.Va., after a shooting.
A deputy secures an area in front of the federal building in Wheeling, W.Va.,… (Scott McCloskey / Wheeling…)

A gunman armed with an assault-type rifle fired multiple rounds at a federal courthouse in Wheeling, W.Va., on Wednesday, shattering the glass facade of the building before being shot and killed by law enforcement officers, authorities said.

The gunman, whose name was not released, is a former Wheeling police officer, said Mike Claxton of the U.S. Marshals Service for the northern district of West Virginia. Authorities are investigating the gunman's motive.

State police confirmed the gunman died of his wounds, the Associated Press reported.

There were people outside the building at the time of the shooting, but "he didn’t appear to be targeting them; he appeared to be targeting the building itself," Claxton told the Los Angeles Times. The building has a glass atrium, and the shots shattered it. A few people in the building were slightly injured by glass shards, he said.

Officers first observed the man firing from a parking lot across the street from the courthouse about 2:45 p.m., Claxton said. The gunman fired 15 to 25 rounds before a Wheeling Police Department officer and a court security officer returned fire, hitting the man.

The U.S. Marshals Service is exempt from the government shutdown.

Several people in surrounding businesses say they didn't hear much. Ed Minor, the manager of Vocelli’s Pizza, which is a block from the courthouse, said he knew nothing about the shooting until he opened Facebook and saw friends talking about it.

"I’m a deer hunter, so I know what shots sound like," he said. "But I didn’t hear a thing."


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