Former Police Officer Thomas Piccard Killed In West Virginia Courthouse Shootout
Oct 10, 2013 10:20 AM EDT
A former police officer was killed in a shootout with police in West Virginia after opening fire at Federal Building on Wednesday, WTOV 9 reported.
Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger named the armed man as Thomas J. Piccard, 55, of Bridgeport, Ohio. He had been retired for 13 years after working in the force for over 20.
Shots were reported at 2:43 p.m. and a Wheeling police officer fatally shot the gunman.
During the shootout, 20 - 25 shots were fired. There were no other deaths, but two security guards were wounded by shattered glass from the courthouse and were treated at Wheeling Hospital.
Authorities are still searching for a motive and obtained a warrant to investigate in Piccard's home.
"We're really digging hard at this point to find out," Chief Deputy Mike Claxton said of a reason for the shooting.
Claxton, who works for the Marshals Service in the state, told The Associated Press that the ex-officer was discovered in a parking lot across from the courthouse.
"He was observed in the parking lot very quickly after the first shots were fired," he said.
By 5:15 p.m., law enforcement was covering the area armed and dressed in bulletproof vests. The Ohio County Emergency Management Agency also assisted on the scene and set up a mobile command post on a nearby street.
"I was so nervous, I couldn't believe it," said Carla Webb Daniels, who was visiting her attorney's office at the time. "People were scared and were banging on the doors asking to be let in."
Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie said the courthouse shooting highlights that no small town or big city in America is protected from similar incidents from happening.
"Things like this aren't just happening in large cities, in this country we need to do a better job on mental health," he said.