3 killed in Del. courthouse shooting

12:58 PM, Feb 11, 2013   |    comments
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The scene outside a courthouse in Wilmington, DE, where at least 3 people were shot Monday morning. (WCAU)

WILMINGTON, Del. -- A suspected shooter at the New Castle County Courthouse killed his wife and another woman, and wounded two other people before he was shot and killed Monday morning.

The shooting happened inside the courthouse, located on 500 N. King Street at around 8:25 a.m. WCAU said at least six nearby schools had been placed on lockdown.

According to Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams, the shooter and his wife were estranged. Authorities said the shooter was in late 20s or early 30s.

Capitol police officers shot and killed the gunman, according to State Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Shavick, who spoke to DelawareOnline.com.

Ferris Wharton, a public defender and former chief deputy attorney general, said an employee of his office reported that he saw a woman who appeared to be dead in the lobby. The employee also saw bullet holes in the window by the revolving door of the courthouse that is adjacent to the parking garage. Shell casings littered the ground, according to Wharton.

"I don't know what to say,'' said Wharton, who has worked in the Wilmington courthouses for three decades. "I've never heard of anything like this happening in Delaware. It's a wild situation.''

The two wounded people were transported to Christiana Hospital. Their exact conditions are unavailable. One of the wounded is a security official at the courthouse.

"When I first heard about this, my first thought was that the only way someone could have gotten in there was to avoid the metal detectors, which is very hard to do, or go in firing," defense attorney Brian Chapman told NBC station WCAU. 

Chapman says on a daily basis there are eight to 10 Capitol Police officers on security detail inside the front of the courthouse.

"There are at least four or five rows of metal detectors when you go in, you put your belongings through, then you have to walk through the metal detectors. Then there are usually eight to 10 police with wands checking everyone and after that you still have to walk by a desk where capitol police sit," Chapman said.

(WCAU Philadelphia & DelawareOnline.com contributed to this report.)

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