Officials: Gunman dead in standoff at Brevard County courthouse
Updated On: Mar 01 2014 12:32:43 AM EST
A standoff between a gunman and authorities that prompted the lockdown of the Brevard County courthouse has ended with the gunman dead, according to officials.
Shortly after Local 6 reporter Justin Warmoth reported hearing what sounded like shots being fired, a Brevard County sheriff’s spokeswoman at the scene said the nearly three-hour situation was resolved.
Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said the standoff ended with gunfire after deputies made two attempts to stop the gunman with non-lethal weapons. The man responded to the non-lethal weapons in an aggressive manner, which forced deputies to open fire.
Ivey said they aren't identifying the deceased gunman until his next of kin is notified.
Video from Sky 6 showed a robot moving into the area near where the man with the gun was pacing. The robot was investigating a bag or backpack on the curb in front of the courthouse. Bomb squad robots have the ability to X-ray suspicious packages and disable them while police stay at a safe distance.
Previously, the gunman was "contained" outside of the courthouse trying to make his way to the entrance of the building with his gun drawn, according to deputies.
"There were a lot of people coming and going from the courthouse and I'm just very thankful that all of them were able to be kept in a collective area so no one else got hurt today," Ivey said.
"We received information earlier this morning that he was on his way to courthouse," Ivey said earlier. "This individual has had a previous report of making threats of setting off bombs at the courthouse."
Ivey said that deputies were able to contain the gunman outside and deployed the SWAT team. A negotiator spoke with him, trying to figure out what the man was upset about, Ivey said.
"You can tell he’s been acting very agitated," Ivey said.
Earlier, Local 6 news helicopter Sky 6 flew over the scene where authorities appeared to be negotiating with the gunman, who waved his arm at deputies.
Video from the scene showed a group of law enforcement officers dressed in fatigues, carrying rifles, located outside of the courthouse.
Snipers were spotted on the roof of the courthouse with guns pointed at the man.
Ivey said the man had a bag with him, but the contents were unknown.
Viera High School and Viera Charter School, both of which are located near the courthouse, were locked down as a precaution.
The incident occurred in the same courthouse where jury selection for Brandon Bradley, accused of killing Brevard County Deputy Barbara Pill, was taking place. Courthouse proceedings were canceled for the day after the standoff ended, and the courthouse was evacuated.
Court will resume its normal schedule on Monday.
During the incident, deputies locked people inside the building, moved staff out of the lobby and ordered those in the parking lot to take cover or move behind the building.
“Sheriff Ivey and his officers are to be commended for containing the incident and protecting courthouse personnel and bystanders from harm,” said Judge John Harris. “Their training and professionalism were evident throughout the ordeal.”
According to BCSO, two weeks before Friday's standoff, the same man threatened to blow up the courthouse. Deputies and the FBI interviewed him and even though making a bomb threat is against the law, the sheriff says that case wasn't criminal, although it's not clear why.
"There was nothing in that scenario that gave us the ability to arrest him or detain him," Ivey said.
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