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Gun incident in courtroom prompts officials to consider a firearms ban, new security measures

Posted Mar 26, 2014 4:45 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Updated: A reported gun incident Monday in an Iowa courtroom is prompting officials to reconsider an unusual policy that allows authorized individuals to bring firearms into the courthouse.

Sentenced to a 10-year prison term for possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, Cory Lee Daugherty, 29, argued with his attorney then pulled out a handgun when a courtroom deputy tried to calm him, according to the Des Moines Register and KCCI. Authorities said Daugherty then ran from the Madison County Courthouse, but was taken into custody by a sheriff's deputy at gunpoint a few blocks away.

Attorney Stephie Tran was seated in the courtroom next to her client when she saw him holding the gun, WHO reports.

“I had no idea he was armed," she told the station. "Thank goodness [the deputy] happened to be in the courthouse. I think it would have been a whole lot worse had he not been there yesterday. So we definitely need the presence of armed deputies in the courthouse."

After his capture, Daughterty was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, escape or attempted escape from custody and assault on a peace officer while displaying a firearm.

The county's board of supervisors has repeatedly voted against a courthouse gun ban, with at least one member arguing that it would be ineffective without enforcement such as a expensive metal detector, the articles say.

However, a Friday meeting is now planned to discuss security at the Winterset courthouse and possible security measures, including the closure of all but one entrance and increasing the presence of sheriff's deputies. Judges and a representative of the county attorney's office are expected to attend, as well as county supervisors.

Supervisor Kirk Macumber told the Register that citizens do not need guns at the courthouse, but he also questions whether a law that would make it a misdemeanor to bring firearms there would be effective without enforcement. Daugherty, he points out, wasn't supposed to bring a gun to court but allegedly did so.

“If you ask me personally, do I think that there’s a need to bring weapons into a courthouse, no, I don’t think so,” he told the newspaper. However, the law proposed in the past "was a policy where we were just going to put up signs and it wasn’t going to be really an enforceable policy.”

Judge Richard Clogg, who sentenced Daugherty on Monday, notes that the courthouse has security cameras and panic buttons. But he says he would feel safer if it also had metal detectors. The problem is, they are very expensive to staff, he notes.

After Monday's incident, however, he would like to have metal detectors installed.

“It’s a tragedy waiting to happen,” he told WHO. “You hope it doesn’t take someone being physically hurt before something’s done.”

The articles don't include any comment from Daugherty.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. to include and accord with WHO coverage.

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