Judge Stabbed, Deputy Shot at Wash. State Courthouse; Judges' Recent Suit Alleged Security Issues
Updated: A judge was stabbed and a sheriff’s deputy was shot around noon today in the Grays Harbor County Courthouse in Washington state, about 90 miles from Seattle.
Both were transported to the hospital and are in satisfactory condition, the Seattle Times reports.
The Seattle PI says Judge David Edwards was stabbed in the neck and the Gray’s Harbor County sheriff’s deputy, Polly Davin, was shot in the shoulder and stabbed. Court was not in session at the time, and the suspect simply walked into the courthouse then fled after the attack.
KIRO says Davin approached Thomas after the office received a call about a suspicious person at the courthouse.
A confrontation ensued and the officer and Edwards were wounded. Their injuries are not life-threatening.
At a press conference, County Undersheriff Rick Scott said the suspect attacked Davin with a knife or scissors and the judge came to her aid, striking the man who then stabbed him. Davin drew her gun, which the suspect wrestled from her. He shot twice, hitting her in the shoulder, before running from the scene, reports the Associated Press.
Authorities are searching for both the attacker and the officer’s weapon. At one point, KING5 said police believed they had cornered the suspect in a house in Montesano, and there was a subsequent report that police had gotten their man. However, that does not presently appear to be the case.
“The suspect is at large,” said Scott. “We do not have the officer’s weapon.”
The suspect, identified by authorities as Michael Thomas, has no known motive, and his reason for being at the courthouse is unclear, the Seattle Times reports.
“We don’t know why he was here. It doesn’t appear he was here on any official business,” Scott said.
Schools and other buildings in the small town in which the courthouse is located were on lockdown afterward, the AP article says.
Kathie Wilson works at a law firm close to the courthouse and said the firm locked its doors after her daughter-in-law called to say she had been locked in a school when she went to pick up her child.
“Everybody in our area has called each other, locking down, we are all watching and waiting to see when everything is OK,” said Wilson.
Late last year, Edwards joined other local judges in a lawsuit over budget cuts, criticizing the courthouse in their filing as lacking proper security measures, the AP article notes. The superior court’s budget, which had been $733,320 in 2010, was slashed to $645,818 for 2012.
“Anyone can enter the courthouse carrying weapons,” stated the suit, which was filed in December in Thurston County Superior Court. It described a number of security incidents at the courthouse in recent years, including a man armed with a knife asking directions to a judge’s chambers and a defendant charging at a judge in a courtroom.
Another Associated Press article provides a few more details about the suit. It says the legal action contended that the Grays Harbor County Commission violated the Washington state constitution by improperly interfering with court administration.
The Seattle Times says the suit describes the courthouse as being the only one in the state housing more than one judge that is “totally without courtroom security.”
Retired Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge David Foscue told the newspaper the courthouse has no metal detectors at the entrances and said the public can readily access judges’ chambers.
“We know there’s a problem; we’ve been concerned about it. It’s a very expensive matter to secure a courthouse,” Foscue said.
Last updated at 8:13 p.m. to include new information from Associated Press article about what happened during the incident.