A self-proclaimed “sovereign citizen” drove an SUV onto the steps of a Georgia courthouse Friday with explosives attached to his body and shot a sheriff’s deputy in the leg before being killed by police, officials said.
Cops identified the suspect as Dennis Ronald Marx, who they say was planning to take the Forsyth County courthouse in Cumming hostage. The scene was captured on raw video recorded across the street, where a new courthouse is under construction.
The video, which you can watch above, shows an explosion, followed by a barrage of gunfire.
Here’s what you need to know about Marx:
1. Cops Say Marx Had Homemade & Commercially Made Explosives
Marx had both homemade and commercially made explosives on his body and in the SUV he was driving, cops told the Macon Telegraph. Marx also had water, supplies and zip tie restraining devices, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. It’s not clear what type of explosives Marx had.
Police said Marx threw down homemade spike strips upon his arrival. The strips are designed to flatten the tires of any approaching vehicles.
The courthouse was evacuated and construction workers building a new courthouse building across the street were also ushered away from the area. The courthouse is closed and likely will be for at least several more hours while authorities sweep the building.
CNN has a report on the incident that you can watch above.
2. Marx Had Filed a Lawsuit Against the Sheriff’s Office
Marx had filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office accusing authorities of excessive force and unconstitutional searches and seizures. You can read a document pertaining to the suit above.
The sheriff told local reporters Marx is known to be a “sovereign citizen” and has ties to an anti-government group connected to violent attacks across the country, according to the AJC.
Sovereign citizens generally describe themselves as answering only to common law and not to the laws of local or national governments.
3. A Sheriff’s Deputy Confronted Marx & Likely Saved Lives
Piper told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the injured deputy was working the doorway of the courthouse and came over to confront Marx. Piper told the paper the deputy’s actions likely prevented people in the courthouse from being killed:
It would be a guess to think how many lives he saved had he not engaged him right there. Marx’s intention was to get inside that front door and to take hostages.
The sheriff’s deputy, a 25-year-veteran of the department, was treated at North Fulton Hospital in Roswell and is doing OK, Piper told the AJC.
Marx was shot dead shortly after shooting the deputy, officials said.
Piper told local reporters a SWAT team had been in the area responding to an unrelated call and was at the scene 37 seconds after being dispatched. An armed sheriff’s deputy was also spotted patrolling the roof of the courthouse.
4. Cops Think Marx’s House ‘Is a Bomb’
The sheriff told reporters Marx had been planning the attack “for a while” and had been staying in a hotel for more than a week. Deputies are searching the house now for explosives, and WSB TV reported the sheriff thinks the house “is a bomb.”
Piper told the station it will take several hours for cops to finish searching Marx’s home and the courthouse.
5. He Was Due in Court on Marijuana & Gun Charges & Recently Got Rid of His Attorney
WSB reported that the gunman’s attorney withdrew from representing him because he had been unsatisfied with her negotiated skills. The attorney said Marx was due in court on marijuana and gun-related charges and that he was a gun buyer and trader.
CBS Atlanta reported Marx was set to enter a plea bargain for a trial that was set to begin Monday. He was charged with possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The attorney had asked Marx to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, but he refused, WSB reported.