Sheriff: Suspect was handcuffed during deadly courthouse shooting

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ST. JOSEPH, Mich. — The suspect who shot and killed two Berrien County courthouse bailiffs was handcuffed in the front during the altercations, Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey said during a Tuesday morning press conference.

Larry Gordon, courtesy MDOC.

Larry Gordon, courtesy MDOC.

Bailey said the inmate, Larry Darnell Gordon, 44, while in handcuffs wrestled the gun away from a deputy who was escorting him to his court hearing.

"During his transport in between the courthouse and the holding cell a fight broke out with our deputy," Bailey told reporters. "He was able to remove his weapon which caused this mayhem today yesterday."

Gordon was in court on a domestic violence and criminal sexual conduct case. During the altercation Gordon disarmed deputy James Atterberry Jr., the sheriff said.

"I do tell you that deputy Atterberry and the two bailiffs were well trained well prepared and this was an unfortunate thing," Bailey said. "We move people everyday, every courtroom does. This was an unfortunate situation where this inmate, who wanted to break out, was able to overpower a deputy and get his weapon."

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

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

Bailey said Gordon shot Atterberry before shooting and killing Joseph Zangaro, 61, and Ronald Kienzle, 63. Police say Gordon made it to a third floor hallway where he shot a woman. Identified by South Bend stations as Kenya Ellis, she was listed in stable condition Monday evening in the hospital.

Initially, authorities gave wrong information about the suspect not being handcuffed, something Bailey admitted to Tuesday morning. He said investigators later clarified to him the suspect was in fact handcuffed in the front.

The Berrien County Courthouse will remain closed through Tuesday. The county will be offering grief counseling for all employees who need it.

Kenya Ellis and Deputy James Atterberry, Jr. (Courtesy: WBND/ABC57 NEWS)

Kenya Ellis and Deputy James Atterberry, Jr. (Courtesy: WBND/ABC57 NEWS)

"It’s really hard, they’re both really close friends of mine, so it was really difficult today," Bailey said. "It was hard to sleep and my prayers go out to the officers family and we will continue to pray for healing."

Bailey said the bailiffs killed acted heroically.

"Those bailiffs were heroes, like the other officers in that courtroom, they ran to where shots were being fired," he said. "This could’ve been a lot worse without them being so brave."

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