HOUSTON (Reuters) - A gunman killed one person outside a Texas courthouse on Wednesday and wounded three others, including one he shot and ran over with his truck, before being seriously wounded himself in a wild, rolling gunfight with police, authorities said.
“This guy was driving crazy and he was shooting and we were shooting and people were ducking under cars,” said Jimmy Singletary, chief of police in Beaumont, Texas. “This was a classic shootout here that our guys handled very well.”
Police did not identify the gunman, who eventually surrendered, but a judge who works in the courthouse said the suspect was a defendant in a child sexual assault case being tried in the courthouse.
The shooting began in a parking lot outside the courthouse when the suspect went to his truck during a recess in the trial, retrieved a weapon and opened fire, said Zena Stephens, an official with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
The suspect drove around the courthouse as he was shooting and at least seven police officers who were on the scene on court business returned fire, Stephens said.
The suspect took hostages in a nearby building but surrendered after a brief standoff, she said.
“We contacted him by phone. He said he was wounded and he wanted to come out,” Singletary said. “He had serious wounds. He was agitated.”
Information about the person who was killed was not immediately available.
The attack in Beaumont is the latest in a series of shootings across the United States at public buildings over the past week.
On March 7 a gunman fired a flurry of shots into the air and then traded gunfire with police outside the Tulsa County Courthouse in Oklahoma, wounding a sheriff’s deputy and a bystander.
Last Thursday two people were killed and seven people wounded in a shooting at a psychiatric institute at the University of Pittsburgh.
Then on Friday a knife-wielding attacker stabbed a judge and shot a sheriff’s deputy with the officer’s own gun in a county courthouse in Washington state.
Additional reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis, Andrew Stern, David Bailey and Cynthia Johnston; Writing by James Kelleher; Editing by Greg Mccune and Xavier Briand