Posted Apr 22, 2014 02:35 pm CDT
A new federal courthouse in Salt Lake City was touted for its enhanced security features.
However, when a defendant in a racketeering case lunged at a witness at his trial began Monday, it wasn’t the exterior vehicle barricades or the bullet-resistant glass and paneling that stopped him but an armed federal marshal, reports the Associated Press.
Jurors, lawyers and other courtroom observers were stunned by the shooting. Officials said Siale Angilau, 25, was shot several times in the chest as he went for the witness with a pen or pencil as the trial began. He died Monday afternoon at a hospital.
Two witnesses to the shooting who were present in the courtroom to see a relative testify later in the day described the scene to the Salt Lake Tribune. They said Angilau also appeared to punch the man on the stand, who is already serving a hefty prison sentence and was cooperating with the prosecution.
The defendant wasn’t handcuffed or shackled, and fell to the floor as the marshall continued firing, Perry Cardwell said. “I thought, when is he going to stop shooting?”
Ordered to get down, spectators in the courtroom crawled under benches, he and his daughter, Sara Jacobson, said. The courthouse was subsequently locked down but is now open again.
Even before Angilau died, U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell declared a mistrial, saying in her order that jurors were “visibly shaken and upset” after witnessing the shooting at close range.
In a separate order, she also extended the jurors’ service “until counseling is no longer needed,” the AP article reports.
ABAJournal.com: “Defendant shot dead by marshal after charging witness stand during trial, officials say”