Sheriff: Suspect handcuffed during fatal courthouse shooting

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WOOD) — Police say the suspect in the Berrien County Courthouse shooting was handcuffed in the front when he shot and killed two bailiffs.

At a press conference Tuesday morning, Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said the inmate, identified as 44-year-old Larry Darnell Gordon, was able to use his hands — despite the handcuffs — to wrestle the gun away from a deputy escorting him to a hearing.

The sheriff said the deputy had just secured the door of his holding cell when Gordon began fighting him and disarmed him. Bailey said the inmate wounded deputy James Atterberry Jr., 41, before shooting and killing Joseph Zangaro, 61, and Ronald Kienzle, 63. Gordon made it to a third-floor hallway where he shot a woman identified by family members as Kenya Ellis. She was listed in stable condition Monday evening at a local hospital.

Joseph Zangaro left and Ronald Kienzle right 071116
Undated courtesy photos of Joseph Zangaro (left) and Ronald Kienzle (right) were killed at the Berrien County courthouse July 11, 2016. (WNDU)

Investigators said Gordon also tried to take hostages before two other bailiffs and several other officers took him down. Gordon was shot and killed.

The sheriff said all indications are that Gordon was trying to break out of jail.

The sheriff said Gordon had never been combative while in custody before. He says when an inmate is taken to court, they are typically handcuffed in the front rather than the back.

The Berrien County Courthouse will remain closed through Tuesday.

Sheriff Bailey said he’s received some 500 messages of love and support from across the country.

“We’re hurting… But we stand strong. America will always stand strong,” he said.

In a post to Facebook, Rep. Al Pscholka announced plans to honor law enforcement by walking from the Berrien County Courthouse to the Law Enforcement Memorial at Lake Bluff Park in St. Jospeh. The memorial walk starts at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

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