Criminal Justice

Heavily armed 'sovereign citizen' killed in Georgia courthouse shootout

After an alert sheriff’s deputy confronted a heavily armed man in a gas mask outside a Georgia courthouse this morning, the officer was wounded in the leg before other deputies came out and shot the man dead, CNN reports.

Armed with explosives, gas or pepper grenades, and an assault rifle while wearing a bulletproof vest and a gas mask, Dennis Marx had thrown “homemade spike strips” into the roadway to stop traffic in front of the Forsyth County Courthouse as he was about to enter it. Marx, said by a local law enforcement official to be part of the so-called “sovereign citizen” movement of people who believe they are not subject to state and federal laws, was due in court to face drug and weapons charges, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports in a timeline account of events.

The AJC reports that Marx had previously sued the sheriff’s department over claims of excessive force and illegal searches.

Marx was still in is car in front of the courthouse when confronted by the deputy. He shot through his windshield at the officer and wounded him. Other deputies killed Marx in an ensuing 90-second shootout.

“He came here to stay a while,” Sheriff Duane Piper said at a news conference. “[Marx] came here for the purpose of occupying the courthouse, it appears.”

Also see:

ABA Journal: “‘Sovereign citizens’ plaster courts with bogus legal filings—and some turn to violence”

Last updated at 4:15 p.m. to add more detail and a link to previous magazine coverage of sovereign citizens and the courts.

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