Las Vegas Courthouse Shooting Highlights Threat Assessment Issue


Monday’s deadly shooting at a Las Vegas federal courthouse highlights the type of threat to courthouse security that’s hardest to protect against – targeted attacks on courts and judges by jilted plaintiffs, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Johnny Lee Wicks apparently opened fire with a shotgun hidden under his jacket. He killed a security officer and wounded a U.S. marshal. Wicks was killed in the shootout that followed.

Early reports indicate that Wicks was upset over a judge's Feb. 9 dismissal of his lawsuit against the Social Security Administration. The suit claimed that his benefits were cut because he was black. It's unknown if Wicks, who had a lengthy criminal record that included sexual assault and murder charges, made any threats to federal the federal judge in Las Vegas who dismissed his case or would have given federal agents any reason to suspect he was capable of such violence. Threat assessment is “the part that we have to work a lot harder on, but it also takes a lot more resources, time, and funding,” says Lt. Jimmie Barrett, a court security supervisor in Arlington, Va., and author of “Protecting Court: A Practitioner's Guide to Court Security.”

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