An inmate who got hold of an officer’s weapon fatally shot two bailiffs and injured a deputy sheriff at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan.
The incident, which occurred on Monday afternoon, involved Larry Darnell Gordon, 45, who was being transferred from a holding cell.
Gordon got hold of the weapon after a fight started outside the cell. While Bailiffs Joseph Zangaro and Ronald Keinzle were shot and killed, Berrien County deputy James Atterberry Jr. was injured. He was shot in the arm. Another civilian was also shot after which officers killed Gordon, as reported by WNDU.
Jessica Gordon, the inmate’s ex wife and mother of his children, said she was informed about the incident when officers arrived at her home. Having spoken to him the previous day, Jessica said she had no idea Gordon was planning an attack. Whether the attack was planned or not is under investigation by Sheriff’s officials.
“I believe he was probably terrified of having to go to prison and not seeing his family again,” Jessica said. “All he wanted to do was get home to our baby girl.”
Gordon’s identity was released publicly in a news conference on Monday.
Kienzle, 63, was a retired sergeant with the Benton Charter Township Police Department who had also served in the U.S. Army. Zangaro, 61, was the head of courthouse security and had retired from the Michigan State Police as post commander of the Bridgman Post.
Speaking with the Herald Palladium in August, Zangaro said he was “in charge of all security officers that Berrien County has within the court system, and also in charge of security for three court sites, the St. Joseph building, the Niles building and we have a court in the juvenile center.”
“I’m responsible for the security of that courtroom, not the juvenile center itself,” he said. “I also from time to time work courtrooms myself, filling in, and I sometimes work with the chief judge when he has trials and on the civil (court) floor with both Judge Dewane and Judge Butzbaugh in civil trials.”
Sheriff Bailey expressed sorrow for the death of the victims.
“Our hearts are torn apart. They were my friends,” he said. “They were my colleagues. I’ve known them for over 30 years.”
Gordon was facing felony charges. As reported by WOOD TV, Michigan State Police records show he faced two counts of criminal sexual conduct, charges of kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, and domestic violence.