The third floor of Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph, Mich., was in complete uproar following a devastating incident that took place Monday afternoon (July 11).
The chaos began as bailiffs transported inmate Larry Darnell Gordon, who wasn’t handcuffed at the time, from a holding cell to his court arraignment. In an attempt to flee, Gordon grabbed one of the bailiff’s guns and opened fired, killing bailiffs Joseph Zangaro and Ron Kienzle, and leaving two wounded, CNN reports. Gordon then ran to the public corridor, attempting to hold the room hostage with innocent court employees and citizens, before trying to escape through one of the doors. There were a few courageous bailiffs in the room, who were able to gain control of the situation, fatally shooting the inmate, as others ducked for cover.
Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey was shocked at what took pace in the courthouse, and referred to the court’s bailiffs as heroes who went into gunfire. He wasn’t expecting a situation like this to occur.
“We had no information he was going to be violent and not everybody who goes into the courtroom is handcuffed,” he said. Gordon was arrested back in April for felony charges of kidnapping, sexual assault, and obstructing police.
St. Joseph native, Fred Upton, released a statement following the devastating tragedy, which shed some light on an officer’s duty to take an oath as a devoted member of the public who will serve for your country and protect the people in it.
“What occurred today in my hometown breaks my heart. My thoughts are with our entire community – our friends and neighbors,” he said. “This tragic event reminds us all too well that our law enforcement officers have their lives on the line every day not knowing what that day will bring,” he said. “We have lost two very able public servants, and we all grieve for them and their families. As we learn more about this horrific situation, one thing is clear: We must do better to prevent these types of tragedies from occurring.”