Fatal shootout in the Las Vegas federal courthouse.

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Fatal shootout in the Las Vegas federal courthouse.

Postby barracuda » Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:15 pm


    Two Killed in Las Vegas Courthouse

    A gunman in a black trench coat opened fire Monday morning in the lobby of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas, killing a court security officer and wounding a deputy United States marshal before fleeing. He was then shot in the head and killed nearby.

    “The suspect was in the lobby, but he never made it past the security checkpoint,” said Barbara Morgan, a spokeswoman for the Las Vegas police.

    The building is a huge structure that houses federal courts as well as other agencies, including the offices of Senators Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, and John Ensign, a Republican. Both Senators were in Nevada, their offices said, but not in the building.

    The gunman entered the building shortly after it opened at 8 a.m. and began firing in the lobby. An Associated Press reporter within sight of the building counted 20 shots over several minutes, although it was not clear how many were fired by the gunman and how many by responding law enforcement officials.

    Police and federal agents poured through the building looking for signs of any other suspects, but none were found.

    Two hours after the shooting, the complex was still being evacuated floor by floor, with groups of about 20 people being escorted several blocks away while surrounded by several officers toting large rifles. The courthouse was blocked off for at least a five-block perimeter.

    Paramedics rushed at least two people down a ramp to waiting ambulances, where they were taken to the trauma unit of the University Medical Center. Federal officials confirmed that the security officer, who was 65, had died. Roxana Lea Irwin, chief deputy United States marshal for the Nevada district, said she saw shotgun casings on the lobby floor, an indication of the kind of weapon that was used.

    There was no immediate word on the identity of the suspect, or whether the shooting was a random act of violence, a vendetta or something else. There was also no initial indication that terrorism was involved.

    Joseph Dickey, a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said the gunman died shortly after the shootout.

    The building, the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse, at 333 Las Vegas Boulevard South, is blocks from several casinos, including Fitzgeralds Casino and Hotel and the Plaza Hotel and Casino. It is also close to the University Medical Center and the Valley Hospital Center.

    Senator Reid’s office said that his staff was fine. “My thoughts are with the victims of today’s shooting and their families,” Senator Reid said in a statement. “The law enforcement personnel who protect the courthouse put their lives at risk every day to keep the people who are inside safe, and I greatly appreciate their service.”

    Asked if the senator thought the incident was related to the presence of two senators in the buildings, Jennifer Cooper, Mr. Ensign’s spokesman, said the office was still learning details of the shooting.

    The courthouse — with its giant articulated column and circular atrium entrance shaded by a canopy in line with the roof — is architecturally significant, having received a citation for design excellence from the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on Architecture for Justice.

    “The design makes a bold statement in the scale of the canopy, monumental column and stairs at the building entry,” the committee said. “The scale and detailing of these elements serve to establish a signature identity for the courthouse.”
However, earlier reports, such as this Wall Street Journal article, differed:

    Two FBI Agents Shot In Downtown Las Vegas - Report


    Las Vegas police said that two FBI agents were shot at the FBI building at 300 Las Vegas Boulevard South, according to a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A spokeswoman said information is preliminary, but it appears two agents have been shot and a possible suspect also has been shot. The suspect is in police custody, but the condition of the agents and the suspect isn't yet known. It is unclear if police are looking for more suspects.

    Full story

The most dangerous traps are the ones you set for yourself. - Phillip Marlowe
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Postby sunny » Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:09 pm

Must they all wear black trenchcoats?
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Postby Uncle $cam » Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:27 pm

Las Vegas Courthouse Shootout
Suffering raises up those souls that are truly great; it is only small souls that are made mean-spirited by it.
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Postby Penguin » Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:49 pm

What else would look as cool as a black trenchcoat, and still enable you to hide guns underneath?
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Postby brekin » Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:52 pm

This is strange. Driving into work around 7:30 am Pacific Standard Time I was I believe listening to NPR and they had a story about how Federal Marshalls had just agreed to a 12 or 16 point recommended solution plan to better guard judges and their families because of the crazy increase of threats this last year.

Here is a similar online story released today as well with a few other ones:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100104/ap_ ... _to_judges

Threats against federal judges, prosecutors are up

By DEVLIN BARRETT, Associated Press Writer Devlin Barrett, Associated Press Writer – Mon Jan 4, 11:28 am ET

WASHINGTON – Threats to federal judges and prosecutors have jumped dramatically, according to a new government report issued Monday that found such threats more than doubled in the past six years.

Three years after the husband and mother of a federal judge in Chicago were killed by a man angry over a court ruling, the report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine concludes there are still major gaps in reporting and responding to threats.

Between 2003 and 2008, the number of threats and inappropriate communications jumped from 592 to 1,278, the report found. The government defines "inappropriate communications" as messages that aren't explicitly threatening but worrisome enough to require further investigation.

The federal court system has more than 2,000 judges and more than 5,000 prosecutors.

Prosecutors and judges "do not consistently and promptly report threats they receive," the inspector general's report found — estimating that as many as 25 percent of threats are not reported to security officials.

When those threats are reported, the U.S. Marshals do not consistently coordinate with local police, and in many cases don't record ever having notified the FBI of the threats.

According to the marshals' own threat database, there was no record of having notified the FBI of 40 percent of the threats, the report said.

The U.S. Marshals Service agreed with the inspector general's recommendations to improve coordination with local and FBI officials, and to more thoroughly analyze each threat and take necessary protective measures.

Marshals spokesman Jeff Carter said the agency has "made great strides over the past few years in our judicial security mission, and as the U.S. Marshals Service believes there is always room to perfect the process, we will carry out the report's recommendations with that goal in mind."

The review notes that no federal judges or prosecutors have been killed in the six year period. The security of judges and their families has been a growing concern since the 2005 slaying of Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow's mother and husband. Investigators determined the killer was angry that the judge had dismissed his medical malpractice lawsuit.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/200 ... eats_N.htm
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Postby Nordic » Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:43 pm

The right wing hatemongers and propagandists with their "activist judges" bullshit.

I'm surprised there isn't more of this.
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Postby DrVolin » Mon Jan 04, 2010 9:48 pm

Tragic for the men and their families.

But for us interesting that it comes on the heels of the insider facilitated killing of 8 CIA officers in Afghanistan. There are precedents for assassinations of both CIA and FBI personnel. For example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993_shoot ... adquarters. And I've often wondered whether the whole DC Sniper thing wasn't in part or in whole an assassination of FBI intel analyst Linda Franklin.

But I get the feeling that these are part of some sort of vendetta, and quite separate from the recent intimidation attacks on the Legislative and Judicial branches. Those attacks have clear political objectives. The prototype of these is the Anthrax attacks on Senators Daschle and Leahy in the runup to the Patriot Act vote.

A good example of a similar intimidation attack on the judicial branch might be the shooting by Brian Nichols of a federal judge in his own courtroom on the calling card date of 3/11/05.

I feel we are dealing with two distinct phenomena.
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Postby barracuda » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:01 pm

Uncle $cam, that video is hectic. I counted easily over fifty shots fired, and it would seem the video begins sometime in the middle of the engagement.

DrVolin, interesting thoughts there.

The latest report:

    Las Vegas shooting suspect had sued over Social Security benefits

    DEVLIN BARRETTAssociated Press Writer

    January 4, 2010 | 3:08 p.m.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Law enforcement officials say the suspect in the Las Vegas shooting at a federal building was upset over losing a lawsuit over his Social Security benefits.

    The two officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case, say Johnny Lee Wicks is the man who opened fire at a security checkpoint Monday morning and was shot dead in a gunfight with deputy U.S. marshals.

    While the investigation is still under way, the officials say the early evidence points to the man's anger over his benefits case as the motive for the shooting.

    Court records show Wicks had sued the Social Security Administration in 2008, but the case was thrown out and formally closed in September 2009.
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Postby IanEye » Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:03 am

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Postby beeline » Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:09 pm

Guard, gunman die in shoot-out

The attacker at the Las Vegas courts reportedly was upset over cuts in Social Security benefits.

By Ken Ritter and Devlin Barrett

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS - A gunman opened fire with a shotgun at a federal building yesterday, killing a court security guard and wounding a U.S. marshal before he was shot to death after a running gun battle with officers.
Johnny Lee Wicks, 66, was upset over losing a lawsuit over his Social Security benefits, law enforcement officials said.

The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.

Although the investigation is continuing, the officials said evidence pointed to Wicks' anger over his benefits case as the motive for the shooting.

Court records show Wicks, a black man, sued the Social Security Administration in 2008, alleging he was the victim of racial discrimination because his benefits were reduced when he moved from California to Nevada in January of that year. The case was thrown out and formally closed Sept. 9.

The gunfire erupted moments after 8 a.m. at the start of the workweek and lasted for several minutes. Shots echoed around tall buildings in the area, more than a mile north of the Las Vegas Strip.

"I could see guards and everything coming out, and then all of a sudden I just started hearing pop, pop, pop. I mean, just like 30 or 40 shots," said Troy Saccal, a tax-services manager who was arriving for work at the time.

Saccal said he thought he saw one guard slump to the ground and another move to help him.

The U.S. Marshals Service said the victims were a 48-year-old deputy U.S. marshal who was hospitalized and a 65-year-old court security officer who died.

The dead guard was Stanley Cooper, a retired Las Vegas police officer, said Jeff Carter, spokesman for the Marshals Service in Washington. Carter said Cooper was a police officer for 26 years and became a federal court security officer in Las Vegas in 1994.

Authorities did not immediately release the name of the wounded marshal.

Wicks, in black pants, shirt, and jacket, opened fire in front of a set of security metal detectors just inside the rotunda of the federal building, FBI Special Agent Joseph Dickey said.

"From what witness accounts have said, he walked in with a shotgun underneath his jacket and opened fire when he opened the doors," Dickey said. "Seven officers responded and returned fire."

The sound of the running firefight, as Wicks retreated across Las Vegas Boulevard toward another federal building and a historic school, could be heard in a YouTube video.

The gunman died in the bushes outside the restored Fifth Street School, where his body remained for hours.
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