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3 dead in courthouse shooting in Delaware

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Monday, February 11, 2013 - 1:18 pm

WILMINGTON, Del. — 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 gunman and two women are dead. The city's mayor said one of the women killed was the shooter's estranged wife, but Shavack said police had not confirmed that was the case.

Shavak said in a noon briefing that the motive was still to be determined but that it was not a random shooting. He cautioned against information coming from any other source.

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 part time 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," said Lawyer, who works as a document management specialist for the firm.

He said the building was still on lockdown at 12:40 p.m.

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.