A man who accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting a teen girl stole a gun from a sheriff’s deputy inside a courthouse in Michigan and then killed two bailiffs, police say. The deputy was wounded.
Authorities say Larry Gordon, 44, took the gun as he was being transported through the Berrien County Courthouse on July 11. Responding officers then killed Gordon. The entire incident took around 10 minutes to unfold, according to authorities. The shooting took place in the town of St. Joseph, about 50 miles west of Kalamazoo.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Gordon Held a Teen Girl in a Shed for 2 Weeks, Sexually Assaulting Her on Video & Forcing Her to Use Meth, Prosecutors Say
Gordon was facing charges of kidnapping, sexual assault and obstructing police, reports WZZM.
Prosecutors say Gordon was accused of holding a teen girl in a shed against her will for two weeks, WOOD-TV reports.
“The 17-year-old had been held against her will by Gordon for approximately two weeks,” Berrien County Prosecutor Michael Sepic said in a statement. “He gave her methamphetamine in exchange for sex, forced some penetrations, and assaulted her with weapons, and assault by strangulation. He also video recorded the sexual activity.”
Police said they had discovered a similar incident from 2006 involving a 16-year-old girl, but he had not been charged in that case.
Gordon was facing up to life in prison.
He had lengthy criminal history, reports WSBT, dating back to a robbery conviction 1992. His other priors included breaking and entering, DUI and open container violations and fleeing an officer.
2. His Ex-Wife Called Him Her ‘Best Friend’ & a ‘Good Man’ Despite Their Divorce
According to his Facebook page, Gordon had been divorced from his wife, Jessica, since February 2016. He had three children and was a native of Battle Creek, Michigan, but had been living in the town of Coloma at the time of his death. The photos on his social media profile show him to have been a doting father to his 6-year-old daughter Cheyenne. On Facebook, Gordon mentioned owning a car cleaning service named AutoSpa Mobile Detailing.
Speaking to WOOD-TV, Jessica Gordon nee Thomas, said officers and a chaplain had come to her home to inform her about Gordon’s fate. The Detroit Free Press reports that despite the divorce, Jessica Gordon was still wearing a wedding ring.
His ex-wife told WOOD-TV, “He was an amazing man that got mixed up with the wrong people. He loved his children and me and his mother and sister with everything that he had. Our wedding anniversary would have been tomorrow.”
Online records show that he was arrested on April 20.
Jessica Gordon added that she talked with Gordon on July 10, the day before the attack, and had no indication about what he was planning. She said, “I believe he was probably terrified of having to go to prison and not seeing his family again. All he wanted to do was get home to our baby girl.”
3. Gordon Took Hostages During the Attack
According to police scanner traffic, the gunman took hostages at around 2:20 p.m. local time on the second floor of the building. That’s when the gunfire rang out. The situation ended within minutes of the first gunshot. You listen to the scanner traffic above.
Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said that it was “brave officers” who took the suspect down.
An employee, Zarya Stark, of the courthouse was the first to tweet about the shooting. She later said on social media that she had been able to make it out safe to her car. Stark added that she thought the shooting was taking place on the third floor of the building.
Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said that a deputy and a bailiff were taking Gordon through the court when he began to struggle. Then, two responding bailiffs arrived on the scene to help.
Early on, Gordon was confirmed as one of the deceased, reports WZZM’s David Bailey. He also tweeted that the other people killed are two bailiffs. While WZZM reports that both of the deceased men were retired cops.
In a press conference, Sheriff Paul Bailey referred to the slain bailiffs as friends, saying, “I’m going to try and get through this, I’ve lost friends today… I’m here with a heavy heart.” They have been named as Ron Kienzle and Joe Zangaro.
Just after 3:30 p.m., Michigan Governor Rick Snyder tweeted that the courthouse had been secured and that the Michigan State Police would be handling the investigation.
Tributes flooded in from political leaders following the shooting. Rep Tim Walberg of Michigan’s 7th District tweeted, “Praying for our neighbors in Berrien County during this time of heartache as they grieve the tragic loss of two officers today.” While Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said, “We all need to reach out and be supportive of law enforcement in our state and across the country.” GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted, “Thoughts and prayers with the victims, and their families- along with everyone at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan.”
4. A Wounded Sheriff’s Deputy & a Civilian Remain in the Hospital
The other victim in the shooting is a sheriff’s deputy who was shot in the left arm and finger reports WWMT’s Nicky Zizaza. The deputy is said to be in stable condition at a local hospital. He has been named as James Atterberry Jr. His father is a former NAACP representative on the parole board for the state of Michigan, Bishop James E. Atterberry.
The wounded civilian has been named as Kenya Ellis, a native of Benton Harbor, Michigan, reports WZZM’s Taylor Popielarz. Meanwhile, ABC 57’s Brian Dorman tweeted that Ellis is in stable condition but will require two surgeries.
5. The Attack Comes With American Law Enforcement on Edge Following the Killing of 5 Cops in Dallas
This shooting comes as law enforcement across the country are on high alert following the killing of five cops in Dallas on July 7. Cop killer Micah Johnson had targeted officers following the shooting deaths of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana.
During a press briefing after the Berrien shooting, Governor Snyder told the media, “This is a particularly tough time for law enforcement. This is a terrible event and we need to rally together.”
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