Gunman kills 1, wounds 3 outside Texas courthouse
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) — A man at court with family members opened fire outside a Southeast Texas courthouse Wednesday, killing an elderly bystander and wounding at least three others — including his daughter and her mother — before briefly taking hostages at a nearby business, police said.
Bartholomew Granger, 41, had been inside the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont but went out to his pickup truck shortly after 11 a.m., drew a weapon and began shooting, police said.
A detective outside the courthouse fired back. He quickly was joined by law enforcement officers from nearby buildings, police said.
Granger retreated to his truck and, still firing, ran over his daughter as he fled, Jefferson County Sheriff Mitch Woods said. He drove about three blocks and abandoned his truck in the middle of the street before entering a nearby construction business, police said.
With hostages inside, Granger spoke by phone to police and told them he was wounded. He eventually surrendered and was taken to an area hospital. He was treated and released from the hospital and being held at a local jail without bond.
The woman killed was 79 years old and from Deweyville, about 30 miles northeast of Beaumont, authorities said. Her name was not released. Granger’s daughter remained in critical condition at an area hospital. The daughter’s mother and the third victim, who was not related to Granger, were also treated and released.
“It was crazy,” Beaumont Police Chief Jimmy Singletary said. “He was shooting. Our guys were shooting. It was a classic shootout.”
A pickup truck riddled with at least a dozen bullet holes remained in the middle of the street Wednesday afternoon.
James Gibson, one of the owners of Richard Construction, said about 50 to 60 employees were inside when the gunman entered. An assault rifle believed to belong to the gunman remained in the building, Gibson said.
Authorities said workers trapped inside the building helped to disarm Granger and letting SWAT team officers inside.
“We understand hostages took advantage of the individual when he was semiconscious,” Singletary said. “They refused to be victims.”
“It was pandemonium,” Judge Larry Gist, whose office is across the street from the main courthouse building, said as he described how law enforcement flooded the scene as soon as the shots rang out.
Ricky Gandy said he went to the window of his office at LJA Engineering, which overlooks the parking lot next to the Beaumont Police department, after hearing a “pop, pop, pop.”
He saw police shooting at a pickup truck as it came out of the parking lot, but the driver “never really got in a hurry.”
“Once it started, it was kind of like the Fourth of July,” Gandy added. “Several shots, I imagine, I’m guessing at least 30 shots all together.”