Courthouse Shooter Was 'Terrified' of Prison: Ex-Wife

Inmate Larry Gordon was apparently able to grab gun from officer while handcuffed
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2016 7:20 AM CDT
Courthouse Shooter Was 'Terrified' of Prison: Ex-Wife
Larry Darnell Gordon   (Michigan Department of Corrections via AP)

The inmate who grabbed a deputy's gun and killed two people inside a Michigan courthouse has been identified by police as 44-year-old Larry Gordon of Coloma. Authorities say a deputy was escorting Gordon from a holding cell inside Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph when Gordon overpowered the officer and grabbed his gun, all with his hands cuffed in front of him, per WNDU (original reports noted he wasn't cuffed). Deputy James Atterberry Jr., 41—now in intensive care—was injured before Gordon fatally shot two bailiffs, identified as 61-year-old Joseph Zangaro and 63-year-old Ronald Kienzle, both retired police officers. A female civilian was also shot in the arm before Gordon was killed by an officer, report WOOD and WZZM. Officers are now investigating whether the incident was planned, but Gordon's ex-wife—who spoke to the inmate on Sunday—says he gave no indication that that was the case.

"I believe he was probably terrified of having to go to prison and not seeing his family again," Jessica Gordon says, adding her ex was still her best friend. The father of five "loved his children and me and his mother and sister with everything that he had." Gordon—who was in jail on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and was facing charges of kidnapping, domestic violence, and assault with a dangerous weapon—was not an "angry violent person," she adds. "He was an amazing man that got mixed up with the wrong people." WNDU reports that Kienzle was a US Army veteran and retired sergeant with Benton Charter Township Police. Zangaro had retired from the Michigan State Police and was in charge of courthouse security. "They were my friends. They were my colleagues. I've known them for over 30 years," Sheriff Paul Bailey says. "Our hearts are torn apart." (More Michigan stories.)

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