Larry Darnell Gordon allegedly snatched a gun from a sheriff’s deputy and used it to kill two bailiffs at a courthouse in southwestern Michigan — all while handcuffed.
New details are emerging of the Michigan courthouse shooting that left two officers dead on Monday. Police had initially said that Gordon was not restrained when he made his deadly but ultimately unsuccessful escape attempt, but on Tuesday said that Gordon was indeed in handcuffs during his attack, CBS News reported.
Gordon had been previously arrested and charged with kidnapping, assault with a dangerous weapon, and criminal sexual conduct. He was reportedly being transported into the courthouse at the time of his attack.
Police added that the Michigan courthouse shooting took place while a fight broke out inside the courthouse, with the 44-year-old Gordon taking advantage of the distraction in the court to lunge for the gun holstered by Deputy James Atterberry, Jr.
Gordon allegedly shot Atterberry and took hostages, but then attempted to leave through another door. But Gordon remained in the room, killing Joseph Zangaro, 61, and Ronald Kienzle, 63, when they rushed in to help the wounded man.
Gordon was then shot and killed.
Authorities later described the two murdered bailiffs as heroes who rushed into the room to save the wounded man and hostages, knowing that their lives were at risk.
“I could just say at this time they were great people and our hearts are broken for their families and their kids,” said Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey (via ABC News). “Both of them were just class acts.”
The murders of the Michigan courthouse bailiffs came just days after an attack in Dallas that left five police officers dead and seven others wounded. The Dallas attack came during a march by local activists speaking out against two police killings of black men in recent days, one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the other in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Bailey on Monday compared the shooting in Michigan to the attack in Dallas, saying that both times there were officers who risked their own lives to protect others.
“If you can keep our officers in your prayers, I’d appreciate it,” Bailey said.
But the Michigan courthouse shooting was different in nature than the Dallas attack, as Gordon’s attack was not a political statement but rather a crime of opportunity by a man reportedly desperate to escape from what could have been life in prison. Authorities said Gordon could have been facing a life sentence if convicted.
The ex-wife of Larry Darnell Gordon said she believed he killed the officers because he was desperate that he might not see his children again, WZZM reported.
AG Lynch says DOJ will provide whatever help they can to local authorities after shooting in Michigan courthouse. https://t.co/TgPV6ZONKa— ABC News (@ABC) July 12, 2016
Jessica Gordon also said that the attack was much out of character for Larry, the report noted. She said that Larry loved his 6-year-old daughter, Cheyenne, and even talked about moving back in with the family. The couple had been together for 19 years and married for 10.
“Larry was not a violent person,” she told the Detroit Free-Press. “The only thing I can think of is that he was completely terrified, and people do things out of character when they’re scared. With all my heart I believe he was trying to get home to see Cheyenne (his daughter).”
While some have attempted to make sense of the attack by Larry Darnell Gordon, others put their focus on remembering the bailiffs killed in the Michigan courthouse shooting. Hundreds of people gathered at the courthouse on Tuesday and participated in a memorial walk for the two killed officers, with some laying down flowers in memory of the two.
[Photo by Mark Parren /AP Images]