I dearly hate to be the bearer of more negative news to kick off this new year. This one hits a bit closer to home, however. Just as natural disasters are capricious in nature and stop for no one, gun crime and violence marches on.
A man walked into a federal courthouse in Las Vegas and opened fire, killing a security guard and injuring a deputy marshal. The assailant committed the act with a shotgun that he hid underneath his clothes just after 8 a.m. Witnesses say “between 30 and 40 shots” were fired in total. The shooter was killed by police in the exchange.
The shooting took place at the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse. The courthouse holds the offices of Senators Harry Reid and John Ensign, neither of whom were present at the time.
In a statement released by U.S. Marshals Service Director John F. Clark, the on-duty officers are to be heralded as “heroes.” He also stated “rest assured, the brave and immediate actions of these two individuals saved lives by stopping the threat of a reckless and callous gunman who had no regard for who or how many victims were struck down by his senseless actions.”
According to CNN, the assailant is a former Las Vegas police officer. FBI spokesman Joseph Dickey said shortly after the shooting that the shooting isn’t correlated to a terrorist attack, and an investigation is underway to find a motive.
Interestingly enough, in a report published today just hours before the shooting by the Justice Department’s inspector general, threats against federal judges and prosecutors increased 12 percent in 2008 (1,278 reported.) That is more than double the amount reported in 2003 (592 reported.) Speculation coupled with this report would seem to hint at this particular crime being related to the threats, but a motive has yet to be settled on.