Gavel Grab

Gunman Wounds 1 in Arkansas Courthouse Rampage

A gunman armed with three handguns and a semi-automatic rifle began firing inside the Crawford County Courthouse in Arkansas, wounding the secretary of a judge he wanted to see. The suspect died after a gun battle with authorities.

Police said the suspect, who was identified as 48-year-old James Ray Palmer of Kibler, asked to see Arkansas Circuit Judge Gary Cottrell and was told the judge was not there, according to an Associated Press article.  The gunman fired off at least 70 rounds, and he had a tactical vest that allowed him to carry more ammunition.

The police said they believe the shooting was related to a 2008 divorce and custody battle involving Palmer, which Judge Cottrell presided over, according to a report by Todaysthv.com. In advance of the shooting, Palmer texted a family member and said he was going to commit suicide.

Crawford County Sheriff Ron Brown said metal detectors are used only when high-profile cases are proceeding at the courthouse, and Palmer entered the courthouse without a problem.

County Judge John Hall told the (Fort Smith) Times Record, “Yes, there is going to be a change in security. The days to free access to the oldest courthouse west of the Mississippi is over.”

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