A gunman opened fire in the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, De., yesterday, killing two women and injuring two police officers. Police shot and killed the man, Thomas Matusiewicz, whose son may have been embroiled in a custody dispute with one of the victims, says the Wilmington News Journal. The National Law Journal says the attack at a courthouse came about a week after Texas prosecutor Mark Hasse was gunned down. Steven Swensen, a former U.S. marshal and founder of the Center for Judicial and Executive Security in St. Paul, is working with the National Center for State Courts in assessing safety at courthouses.
Swensen says there were 78 courthouse attacks between 2000 and 2009. In the last three years, there were 38. He says, “You’ve got the highly charged emotional events—the family court domestic situations where people feel backed into a corner and have triggering events. With certain groups, like antigovernment domestic extremists, there’s more of a forum to promote their causes and find people of like beliefs and ideologies. In the 1980s and ’90s it wasn’t as easy to do this. Now you go on the Internet and you find people with the same complaints and same issues you have.”