Gunman dies in Ark. courthouse shooting

Sept. 14, 2011 at 10:47 PM
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VAN BUREN, Ark., Sept. 14 (UPI) -- A gunman who died in a shootout at an Arkansas county courthouse was carrying three weapons, authorities said Wednesday.

County Coroner Pam Wells told the Fort Smith Times Record the shooting suspect, James Ray Palmer, 48, died at a Fort Smith hospital about 2 hours after the Tuesday afternoon episode.

Van Buren police Lt. Brent Grill told the newspaper Vickie Jones, the secretary to Circuit Judge Gary Cottrell, was recovering from a gunshot wound to the leg.

A Van Buren police officer, David Passen, was injured when the windows of his patrol unit were shattered as he pulled up to the courthouse, the Crawford County Press Argus-Courier reported.

Grill said Palmer had inquired about seeing the judge and pulled out a gun when told Cottrell wasn't in.

The receptionist and Jones fled toward the judge's chambers, where the secretary was wounded. Palmer then engaged in a shootout with officers outside the courthouse, Grill said.

"I believe as many rounds as [the suspect] was popping off, he was trying to shoot anything and everything," Grill said.

He said Palmer had an assault-style rifle and two handguns and was wearing a military-style vest but not body armor, the Times Record said.

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