Posted Mar 20, 2009 01:03 am CDT
It was a time when courthouse metal detectors and bag searches were not yet commonplace. So when Thomas Provenzano walked into the Orange County Courthouse on Jan. 10, 1984, no one knew that the Florida man, who had a history of mental illness, was carrying three guns.
Intending to shoot the police officers who had given him a traffic ticket, Provenzano instead murdered one bailiff inside a courtroom, wounded another, who died in 1991, and narrowly missed a judge. He was trading fire with another deputy in a courthouse hallway when a corrections officer, Mark Parker, got caught in the crossfire.
Then 19, Parker was paralyzed by the shooting. He died early today, at age 44, remembered not only as the last victim of the courthouse massacre but as a man who went on to make the most of his life and continued to focus on helping others, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
“He never stopped trying to make it better for people who had suffered catastrophic injuries like he did,” says former Sheriff Kevin Beary. “He made several trips to Tallahassee to lobby for better benefits for injured law enforcement officers, firefighters and corrections officers.”
Provenzano was executed at Florida State Prison in 2000.