A jail inmate was being escorted from a holding cell at the Berrien County Courthouse when he wrestled with a sheriff’s deputy, got his gun and began shooting.
The suspect pointed the gun at the deputy and shot him, then shot and killed two bailiffs, Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said during a press conference Monday evening.
The suspect then moved into a hallway, where he shot a civilian in the arm, Bailey said. Eventually the suspect was subdued and killed. It’s not clear if he was handcuffed or shackled when the shooting happened.
The deputy and the civilian are being treated at Lakeland Hospital.
The identities of the suspect and victims were not released as of 6:30 p.m. Monday, but Bailey said the two bailiffs killed were veteran police officers who began working as bailiffs about 10 years ago.
Bailey himself knew both men for more than 30 years.
“Our hearts are torn apart. They were our friends. They were our colleagues,” he said. “It’s a sad day.”
The suspect was in custody for multiple charges, but Bailey did not say what those charges were.
The courthouse was doing regular business Monday, but it’s not clear how many people were inside.
The people who were on the third floor where the shooting took place were being kept at the courthouse Monday evening for questioning, Bailey said. Employees and civilians who were on other floors were allowed to leave.
The courthouse will be closed on Tuesday while the Michigan State Police Crime Lab process evidence.
The shooting is still a very active investigation. More details are expected to be released later Monday evening.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder urged Michiganders to pray for each other and support their local police officers.
He said Monday was “a terrible day in a wonderful community.”