WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) — A retired police officer armed with an assault weapon and a handgun fired up to two dozen shots at a U.S. courthouse in West Virginia on Wednesday before police returned fire and killed him, police said.
Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger identified the gunman Thomas J. Piccard, 55, of Bridgeport, Ohio. He was a retired Wheeling police officer.
Schwertfeger did not say whether Piccard used both weapons during the assault on the Wheeling Federal Building or speculate on a motive.
Three on-duty security officers were injured by flying debris during the onslaught, he told a news conference.
Mayor Andy McKenzie said police who briefed him earlier Wednesday told him Piccard was a 20-year-plus veteran of the force who retired 13 years ago.
Investigators were seeking a search warrant for Piccard’s home in hopes of determining a motive and if he acted alone, said Chief Deputy Mike Claxton of the Marshals Service in northern West Virginia.
Asked if the gunman had any beef with the U.S. government, Claxton said, “We’re really digging hard at this point to find out.”
Claxton said a man later identified as Piccard began firing from a parking lot across from the federal building. “He was observed in the parking lot very quickly after the first shots were fired,” he said.
The building houses a variety of courtrooms and related offices, including judges, prosecutors and law enforcement.
Officials said it was too early to tell whether Piccard was targeting anyone in the building or what his motive may have been.
“That’s still trying to be determined,” said Bob Johnson, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Pittsburgh office.