Two bailiffs killed, deputy sheriff injured in Michigan courthouse shooting – Washington Post

Two bailiffs were killed and a deputy sheriff wounded in a shooting Monday afternoon at a courthouse in Berrien County, Mich., authorities said. The gunman was also killed.

The Berrien County sheriff did not go into detail about the nature of the incident, saying only that there was “a disturbance” on the courthouse’s third floor shortly before 2:30 p.m.

“We don’t have all the details as to what happened or whatever occurred or how he got the weapon,” Sheriff L. Paul Bailey said at a news conference Monday.

“The suspect has been shot and killed,” he said. Police did not identify the attacker, who they said fatally shot both bailiffs and wounded the deputy.

Chuck Heit, the Berrien County undersheriff, said both bailiffs were armed. He also said they were both “deputized by the sheriff,” which makes them the latest law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty — their deaths coming just days after a gunman killed five police officers in Dallas last week.

That brings the number of law enforcement officers fatally shot by suspects while in the line of duty to 27, up from 16 a year ago — and slightly ahead of the average number at this point in the year (25) shown in FBI data over the last decade.

The wounded deputy was taken to nearby Lakeland Regional Hospital and treated in the emergency room, Bailey said. This deputy was in stable condition, Heit said.

At least one civilian was shot and was also in stable condition, Heit said. Bailey said that “several” civilians were hurt in the incident, but he did not say whether they sustained gunshot wounds. All of them are in stable condition at Lakeland, he said.

“They went for shelter once the shooting occurred and other brave officers were able to come to their rescue and take the shooter down,”  Bailey said.

Police will release more information later Monday about the incident, Bailey said, adding that he did not have information to share about why the gunman was at the courthouse or what exactly took place.

The Michigan State Police said they responded to the shooting. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) posted on Twitter at 3:30 p.m. that the state police “secured the scene at the Berrien County courthouse and started its investigation into the shooting that occurred this afternoon.”

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said after the shooting that “we must do better to prevent these types of tragedies.”

“What occurred today in my hometown breaks my heart,” he said in a statement. “My thoughts are with our entire community – our friends and neighbors. This tragic event reminds us all too well that our law enforcement officers have their lives on the line every day not knowing what that day will bring. We have lost two very able public servants and we all grieve for them and their families.”

Video footage posted online that appeared to be from outside the courthouse in southwestern Michigan showed numerous police vehicles,  their lights flashing, parked outside the building shortly after the shooting.

Chris Gautz, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, which operates a probation office in the courthouse, said one of their employees was in a third-floor courtroom at the time of the shooting and saw the gunman.

“We had a probation officer in the courtroom when it happened, and the gunman ran right past [her] and the rest of the folks,” Gautz said in a telephone interview. He said the courtroom remained on lockdown.

Gautz said that the probation office’s staff were all secure and none were injured in the shooting.

The courthouse is  about 50 miles west of Kalamazoo, where an Uber driver killed six people in a shooting spree earlier this year.

Kimberly Kindy contributed to this report.

Further reading:

Police officers experience fewer deaths these days — but increased tension

Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no.

The limits of politics at a time of national trauma, suffering and division

[This developing story has been updated and will continue to be updated. First published: 3:37 p.m.]


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