Ron Kienzle: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Ron Kienzle. (Facebook/Ron Kienzle)

Ron Kienzle. (Facebook/Ron Kienzle)

One of the two bailiffs shot and killed by an inmate in a Michigan courthouse rampage has been identified as 63-year-old Ron Kienzle, a retired police officer, U.S. Army veteran, and motorcycling enthusiast, according to ABC57News.

The inmate, identified as Larry Gordon, grabbed a sheriff’s deputy’s gun and used it to kill the two bailiffs, Kienzle and Joe Zangaro, 61, chief of security at the courthouse. The deputy and a civilian were also shot but both will survive, Fox17 said.

The inmate who was responsible for the shooting was also killed, bringing the fatalities to three, said The Detroit News. The Detroit News said the inmate was trying to escape, quoting Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey. The courthouse where the shooting occurred is in southwestern Michigan, said NBC News.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Kienzle Was a Motorcyling Enthusiast Who Had Served in the Military & Was ‘One of The Good Guys,’ a Friend Says

Ron Kienzle. (Facebook/Ron Kienzle)

Ron Kienzle. (Facebook/Ron Kienzle)

On Facebook, Kienzle posted many photographs of himself on motorcycles. He also posted an old military photo; he had served in the U.S. Army. “Those were the days,” a friend wrote under the photo. Most of his social media posts were comical memes. Sheriff Bailey called Kienzle a colleague and friend he had known for more than 30 years.

“It’s a sad day,” the Sheriff said, according to WoodTV.

Ron Kienzle. (Facebook/Ron Kienzle)

Ron Kienzle in the Army in an old photograph. (Facebook/Ron Kienzle)

Shannon Renbarger, a waitress who had served Kienzle coffee for more than two decades, wrote a moving tribute on Facebook about Kienzle, calling him “a great man and friend to many.” She continued:

“When you were a cop, id serve you coffee every morning at 530 when i worked at Orchards restaurant. We got to know each other better and had the same love for german shepherds. We would talk about how you wanted one of my pups and told you youd be the first to get one. You were my baliff at my wedding and you kept asking me if i was sure if i wanted to do it, we giggled and you hugged me and said you were happy for me. You made my day that day! You will be missed dearly by the whole community!! My prayers and condolences to your family. RIP Ron!! God speed, you were one of the good guys.”


2. Kienzle Was a Father & Grandfather & His Daughter Posted a Moving Tribute to Him

Ron Kienzle. (Facebook/Ron Kienzle)

Ron Kienzle. (Facebook/Ron Kienzle)

Kienzle’s daughter posted a remembrance to her father that her mother-in-law, Charlene Fry, shared on a religious site, saying: “This was posted by daughter in-law today. Asking you to pray for her and her family. Her father was one of the bailiffs killed during the shooting at the courthouse in Michigan today.”

The daughter’s statement started, “I lost my dad today.” It continued:

“He was killed simply because another man….an inmate going to court took a deputies gun and opened fired at the courthouse killing my dad, a bailiff and his boss, another bailiff..It amazes me my dad served in the army…was a policeman and retired as a Sgt after 27 years…survived all of that yet as killed by some piece of shit. My daughters, myself my husband and all of my family are deeply sadden and distraught over this senseless act of violence. You were the best dad anyone could ever wish for. You were always there for me when I needed you. I love you dad. You will be missed greatly. I know you are watching us from heaven. R.I.P. Ronald Kienzle.”


3. Both Kienzle & Zangaro Were Retired Law Enforcement Officers

The bailiffs who were shot to death were both retired law enforcement officers, reported The Detroit Free Press. The Free Press said Kienzle was a retired Benton Township officer and the Zangaro had worked as a Michigan State police officer.

News Talk 94.9 said Zangaro was “a retired MSP Bridgman post commander.” In a 2011 Q & A with The Herald Palladium newspaper, Zangaro said he was hired to strengthen security in the courthouse and was responsible for keeping order there. He said the job was challenging, especially because of how many people moved through the courthouse every day. Read a profile of Zangaro here.

On his Facebook page, Kienzle described himself as a former sergeant in road patrol with the Benton Charter Police Department in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The sheriff said Kienzle and Zangaro had both been bailiffs for about 10 years, said News/Talk 95.3.

Kienzle posted this throwback photo:

Ron Kienzle. (Facebook/Ron Kienzle)

Ron Kienzle. (Facebook/Ron Kienzle)

Samantha McGuigan, who once served as a juror, wrote on Facebook: “I had the pleasure of spending one day with Ronald Kienzle while serving on jury duty a month ago. I already knew he was a great man, so sorry for the families involved.”

Retired Benton Township Police officer Kim Fowler also knew both of the bailiffs and called them “good friends,” saying he had worked with Kienzle for a quarter of a century at Benton Township, said The Free Press.


4. The Inmate Wrestled With a Deputy & Grabbed His Gun Before Shooting the Bailiffs

In a news conference, Sheriff Bailey said the uncuffed inmate was “being escorted from a holding cell at courthouse” when he wrestled with a sheriff’s deputy, James Atterberry, Jr., disarmed Atterberry of his gun and began shooting, according to News/Talk 95.3. Atterberry is a church elder who is a father of five and 13-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, The South Bend Tribune says.

Bailey said the inmate pointed the gun at the deputy and shot him and then killed the two bailiffs, News/Talk 95.3 said. Atterberry was in stable condition, according to WSBT. According to a WWMT reporter, The deputy was shot in the finger and left arm.

A judge told The Detroit News that Gordon was in court for a hearing on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. The deputy left the courtroom with Gordon to take him back to the jail when the judge heard a “scuffle” and shouting. The two bailiffs ran to help and were shot and killed, the judge said.

Gordon’s ex-wife, Jessica, told WoodTV: “He was an amazing man that got mixed up with the wrong people.” Although the sheriff said the motive was escape, Jessica Gordon said Gordon was “probably terrified of having to go to prison and not seeing his family again.”


5. A Civilian, Kenya Ellis, Was Also Shot in The Rampage & Other Officers Shot & Killed Gordon

Kenya Ellis. (Facebook)

Kenya Ellis. (Facebook)

According to her Facebook page, Ellis works at EXP Photography and attended two different Michigan high schools. NBC News said that Ellis was the only civilian injured in the shooting rampage. She lists her marital status as single on Facebook.

The suspect had moved into a hallway, where he shot Ellis in the arm, Bailey said. “Brave officers” killed the inmate, said Bailey, according to WZZM13. “Our hearts are torn apart,” the sheriff added.

Courthouse employees were escorted to their cars after the shooting. A probation agent warned colleagues to get down after seeing the inmate run past her, said The South Bend Tribune.

The shooting occurred at 2:25 p.m. Monday, July 11, the sheriff said, according to NBC. The shooting occurred on the third floor of the courthouse and surveillance videos were being studied to see how the inmate was able to get the gun, said The South Bend Tribune.

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