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Just When You Thought It Was Safe

Posted on January 5, 2010 by Jordan There have been 0 comments

A man upset over losing a lawsuit regarding his Social Security benefits walked into the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse downtown Las Vegas on Monday morning, pulled a shotgun from beneath his jacket and opened fire, killing a court security officer and wounding a marshal before fleeing and being shot dead across the street. The identified gunman was Johnny Lee Wicks, 66 who had sued the Social Security Administration in 2008, alleging racial discrimination as the reason why his benefits were reduced.

The courthouse shooting served as a sobering reminder of just how difficult it can be to design a perfectly secure building. The George Federal Building in downtown Las Vegas was the first such facility in the nation to be designed to standards to withstand a lethal bomb blast equal to the one in Oklahoma City.  However, little can be done to stop a lone gunman from entering a lobby and, opening fire before reaching the security measures. The reality is that the building’s security worked as well as could be expected because the gunman never got beyond the front entrance.

In a planter next to the Historic Fifth Street School, which is across the street from the courthouse, orange spray paint outlined the spot where Wicks was gunned down. On the building behind this spot, at least 33 bullet holes could be seen, which means he didn’t stand a chance once deputy U.S. marshals opened fire back.

Twenty-four hours after a deadly shooting, the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse reopened for business this morning. Uniformed officers with Immigration and Customs Enforcement were on hand to provide extra security. Court security officers wore black bands on their badges in honor of their fallen colleague, Stan Cooper, the retired 72-year-old retired Las Vegas police officer who was shot and killed in the courthouse lobby Monday.

This post was posted in Vegas News