SEATTLE (Reuters) - A gunman stabbed a judge and shot and wounded a detective in a county courthouse in Washington state on Friday before fleeing, prompting a lockdown of schools and government buildings as SWAT team members searched for him, authorities said.
The gunman attacked a detective at the entrance of the Grays Harbor County Courthouse in the small town of Montesano, shooting her in the shoulder and stabbing her in the neck, Washington State Trooper Russ Winger said.
The attacker then stabbed the judge in the back of the neck, Winger said.
County Superior Court Judge Dave Edwards, a former prosecuting attorney, was listed in satisfactory condition following the attack at the courthouse in Montesano, about 73 miles west of Seattle, Grays Harbor Community Hospital spokesman David Quigg said.
Quigg said Edwards was “conscious and comfortable.”
The detective, who was not immediately identified, was in stable condition, Winger said. It was not immediately clear how the judge, appointed to the court in 2007 by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire, became involved in the altercation.
The gunman, identified as Michael Thomas, remained at large as police and SWAT teams searched the surrounding area, Winger said.
Thomas was described as being in his early 20s, “relatively well-dressed,” carrying a briefcase, and possibly armed with a handgun and a knife. It was not immediately clear whether he had an appointment at the courthouse.
A Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s spokesman said that government buildings in Montesano, a community of about 4,000 people, had been placed on lockdown following the incident.
A Montesano School District spokeswoman said schools had also been placed on lockdown. Quigg said the hospital was also locked down.
Josh Bachtell, the owner of Savory Faire bakery in Montesano, said he had locked the doors of his business after the husband of one of his employees said he had seen a gunman running from the courthouse.
“Right after it happened he came in and told us there was an armed gunman on the loose, so we’ve locked the doors,” Bachtell said. “It looks like there’s still a lot of police activity out there.”
Charles Wallace, Deputy Director of Emergency Management for Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Department said he was in lockdown himself and has no information.
The violence came two days after a gunman fired a flurry of shots into the air and then traded gunfire with police outside a courthouse in Oklahoma on Wednesday, wounding a sheriff’s deputy and an innocent bystander, authorities said. Officers had no explanation for why that gunman began shooting skyward in an outdoor Tulsa plaza in the middle of the afternoon, Tulsa Police spokesman Leland Ashley said.
Additional reporting by Mary Slosson and Dan Whitcomb; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston