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3 dead in courthouse shooting in Delaware

Updated: February 11, 2013 10:47AM



WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Three people died Monday morning in a shooting at a courthouse in Delaware, including the shooter, authorities said.

Delaware State Police Sgt. Paul Shavack confirmed three people died in the shooting at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington. He said the suspected gunmen and two women are dead. The city’s mayor said earlier in the day that one of the women killed was the shooter’s estranged wife, but Shavack said police had not confirmed that was the case.

Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams said in a telephone interview that he was told the man shot and killed his wife.

Shavack said two police officers suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

He said officers exchanged gunfire with the shooter in courthouse’s lobby before he passed metal detectors. Shavack did not say whether the shooter killed the two women or whether they were killed in the gunfire. Shavack also did not say how the shooter died.

Dozens of police cars and emergency vehicles were on the streets surrounding the courthouse in the hours after the shooting, and police were searching the courthouse room by room as a precaution.

Jose Beltran, 53, a court employee who works in the building, was entering the lobby Monday morning when he heard two shots. He said he turned around and ran.

“It happened so fast,” he said, adding he heard three or more shots as he ran.

Dick Lawyer works across the street at the law office of Casarino, Christman, Shalk, Ransom & Doss and said his office building had been on lockdown since about 8:15 a.m. The shooting occurred about five minutes earlier. He said he and colleagues were shaken at first but calmer hours later. “We have a couple of people whose relatives work at the courthouse,” he said.

Robert Vess, 68, dropped off his wife, Dorothy, 69, for jury duty at the courthouse Monday morning. He said it wasn’t until after 10:30 a.m. that she was able to call him and let him know she was safe. Vess said his wife, who works as a baker at a grocery store, was crying when she called, but he thought she would be all right.

“She had said, ‘If I had my way, I’d do jury duty every day,’ but I don’t think so after this,” Vess said.

State police scheduled another briefing at noon.



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