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Former Wheeling police officer peppers US courthouse with bullets

By From staff and wire reports

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A former Wheeling police officer opened fire on the city's federal courthouse Wednesday, firing 15 to 20 rounds before an officer shot and killed him, officials said.

Sgt. Michael Baylous, State Police spokesman, said there was one gunman involved in the Wednesday afternoon incident at the Federal Building on Chapline Street. The shooting began about 2:45 p.m.

No life-threatening injuries were reported, to Baylous' knowledge. However, two security guards received minor injuries and were treated and released from a local hospital.

Although the shooter's name has not been released, multiple media sources identified him as Tom Picard. The Wheeling Intelligencer newspaper also reported the city of Wheeling initially sent out a press release with the header "Picard release."

Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger would only confirm that the suspect worked at the department until July 2000.

Witnesses told the Intelligencer the shooter was positioned in a parking lot across the street from the courthouse when he opened fire.

Chief Deputy Mike Claxton, with the U.S. Marshals Service, said the shooter was armed with an assault-type rifle and fired 15 to 20 shots before security officers returned fire. He said one of the injured officers was hurt by shattered glass.

The man was located in a parking lot across the street from the courthouse.

Baylous said State Police responded to the scene with Wheeling police and FBI agents. Authorities still are investigating. A motive hasn't been determined.

A Wheeling officer shot and killed Picard and has been placed on administrative leave pending a review of the shooting, Schwertfeger said at a 5:30 p.m. press conference. This is common practice any time an officer shoots a suspect.

The Intelligencer also reported the Federal Building may not have been Picard's only target, as an eyewitness to the shooting said he also may have been aiming for the nearby Wheeling YWCA.

Carla Webb Daniels told the newspaper she was in her attorney's office when she heard several loud gunshots. She said she saw the shooter fire from the Chase Bank parking lot across Chapline Street from the Federal Building.

She also said she saw the shooter put down the assault rifle and reload before shooting at the YWCA building.

"I was so nervous, I couldn't believe it," Daniels said. "People were scared and were banging on the doors asking to be let in."

In addition to court facilities, the Federal Building also houses regional offices of the Social Security Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the General Services Administration.








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