Docs: Wife of courthouse shooter knew about girl living in shed

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COLOMA TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Prosecutors initially told the public that Berrien County courthouse shooter Larry Gordon was in court July 11 for an incident stemming from a 17-year-old girl who had been “held against her will by Gordon for approximately two weeks.”  But documents newly obtained by FOX 17 suggest it was not a “typical” kidnapping.

The documents, obtained from the Coloma Township Police Department through the Freedom of Information Act, shed light on the odd circumstances that lead to the deadly shooting of two court bailiffs at the Berrien County Courthouse in July.

The 222-page report outlines a deteriorating relationship between Gordon, 44, and his ex-wife as Gordon seemingly descended into a world of drug abuse while his wife struggled to take care of their young child.

Police responded to Gordon’s home on Jan. 31 on reports of a 17-year-old girl from Covert being assaulted.  According to the documents, officers spoke with Gordon’s wife who said the teen girl was living in a shed behind their house, calling her a “friend who they took into their home to help out.”

The related incident report details that the girl told officers Gordon had assaulted her for refusing to help get his child ready for school. The report indicates that Gordon grabbed the girl by her neck, put her up against the wall, and told her that “she better do what he asks, when he asks.”

Officers noted that the girl had several visible injuries on her jaw and face.

An officer who responded to the January call later received an email from the 17-year-old girl who appeared to recant the assault allegations against Gordon.

Hi this is {redacted} I had spoken with u earlier this afternoon around 6:30 at {redacted} tannery dr I would like to prefix my complaint now that isn’t {redacted} around and I am not flustered but and upset I do recall that I had cussed at him first and I did swing on right on him that’s why he pinned me and forgot to include that
he didn’t hold me up against the wall I understand now thinking back that he was putting me in my place and I do not want to press any charges against this man if u have any questions this is my email to contact me.

Investigators later determined Gordon had forced the 17-year-old to write and send the message to police in an attempt to evade legal punishment, documents said

Police returned to Gordon’s home on April 20 with a warrant to arrest him on domestic violence charges. Upon arrival, an officer reported hearing the sound of crying coming from behind the home.

Gordon and the 17-year-old girl were discovered in the backyard shed.  Approximately 30 grams of marijuana wax, a digital scale, marijuana pipes, and straws and pipes for using meth were also found.

The incident report indicates Gordon ran from the officer through a “doggy door” in the rear of the shed.  He was later caught hiding under his nearby patio deck where several officers had to pull him out.

The girl told police Gordon sexually assaulted her while holding a staple gun to her head and, on another occasion, a knife to her throat.  Gordon believed the girl had stolen some of his drugs and subsequently hid them on her body.   Gordon said he assaulted the teen in an attempt to locate the drugs he believed she had taken from him.

Police later found multiple videos of Gordon engaging in sexual acts with the girl in his home.  Investigators said they also discovered $4,500 in cash hidden under a stone in the yard, near the shed.  Police searched Gordon’s property and the shed several times after his arrest.

The reports also mention a potential second victim; a 15-year-old girl who had stayed with the family in “2014 or 2015.”  An unnamed witness is noted in the reports saying they had been “told by one of Larry’s friends at the time that Gordon was having inappropriate sexual relationship with {redacted}’s 15-year-old {redacted}.”

On June 17, Gordon’s ex-wife called police to their property to turn over items she had found in a hidden compartment in one of her closets. Gordon’s ex-wife told police she discovered a plastic shopping bag containing pictures, DVDs, SD cards, greeting cards and women’s clothing.  She reportedly told police she believed the clothes were from a 16-year-old from Battle Creek whom Gordon had an affair with “several years ago”.

Slain Berrien Co. Court officers, Joseph Zangaro and Ronald Kienzle

Slain Berrien Co. Court officers, Joseph Zangaro and Ronald Kienzle

It’s unclear in the report if the 16-year-old mentioned is the same girl mentioned previously by the unnamed witness during a police interview.

Gordon was killed during his escape attempt at Berrien County Courthouse on July 11. Authorities said Gordon, while handcuffed, disarmed Deputy James Atterberry Jr. during a fight and wounded him.

Shortly after, Bailiffs Ronald Kienzle and Joseph Zangaro were shot and killed by Gordon in a public hallway.

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