An inmate disarmed an officer then proceeded to shoot and kill two bailiffs while wounding two other people at a courthouse in St. Joseph, Mich., Monday afternoon, Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said.
The shooter was being escorted from a holding cell to the courtroom at the Berrien County courthouse when Bailey said a fight broke out and the inmate got a hold of a gun.
“He was able to get the gun and shoot the deputy and then shoot and kill the two bailiffs,” Bailey said.
The sheriff said the inmate, Larry Darnell Gordon, 45, who was locked up on several felony charges, was attempting to escape.
Bailey said it does not appear that Gordon was handcuffed, adding authorities had “no warning signs” that the suspect would be violent.
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During the incident, Bailey said Gordon took hostages for a short period before trying to leave through another door. The inmate then was fatally shot “by two other bailiffs who came to render aid, along with several other officers,” Bailey said.
Bailey identified the bailiffs killed as Joseph Zangaro, 61, and Ronald Kienzle, 63. He said the longtime law enforcement officers were close friends of his who became court officers after retiring from their departments.
Zangaro was head of court security. He retired from the Michigan State Police as commander of the Bridgman Post in Berrien County. Kienzle retired as a sergeant of the Benton Township police department after serving in the U.S. Army.
Both had been employed by the court for more than a decade.
The injuries suffered by the deputy and the civilian weren’t considered life-threatening. Bailey said the deputy, 41-year-old James Atterberry Jr., had surgery on his arm and is “doing fine.” He said the civilian was a woman who also suffered an arm injury. He did not identify her.
A deputy sheriff as well as a woman were also injured in the incident and taken to the Lakeland Regional Medical Center in St. Joseph. They are both in stable condition.
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It’s not yet clear what led to the shooting, but the unnamed male suspect was killed. Bailey said the suspect was facing multiple charges before the incident occurred.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder was on the scene later in the afternoon to provide support for law enforcement officials.
“This is a terrible event to have happen and we need to rally together to support one another,” he said.
Berrien County, which borders Indiana, is in the far southwestern corner of Michigan.
With files from Associated Press