FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - Gunfire rang out at the Forysth County Courthouse Friday after a man opened fire on a deputy, injuring him in the leg. The gunman was shot and killed a short time later.
Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper said the shooter, Dennis Marx, walked into Forsyth County Administration Building on East Main Street at about 10:30 a.m. and opened fire. He was armed with an assault rifle, according to authorities. Piper said Marx threw stop sticks on the road so that cars could not approach.
Marx was approached by deputy Daniel Rush who he then shot in the leg, Piper confirmed.
“The only way I can describe it is in a frontal assault on our court house,” Piper said.
Piper said Rush was taken to North Fulton Hospital in Roswell with non-life threatening injuries.
“From the video, it looks like he saw that deputy, swerved to try and run over the deputy. The deputy engaged him. He was shooting at Mr. Marx in the vehicle, Mr. Marx was shooting through the windshield at the deputy,” Piper said.
The SWAT team, which was on its way to a separate incident, arrived at the courthouse within 37 seconds. Marx was shot dead in front of the court house a short time later.
None of the other deputies involved in the incident were injured.
Piper described Marx’s home as a “bomb.” When officers entered the home Friday night, they found pipe bombs and other incendiary devices but none were booby-trapped to go off.
The sheriff said evidence showed that Marx had not been living at his home for more than a week and instead had been staying at a hotel. Piper said it will take hours to clear the courthouse.
“It's kind of creepy to find out a whacko lives in your neighborhood,” Jane Bizzell said. She along with others was not allowed into the neighborhood. Neighbor Dorothy Varano who lived up the street from Marx said police visited her home a number of times throughout the day and told her to stay indoors for her safety.
But learning the house was filled with explosives made Browning wonder about her now deceased neighbor.
“I know a lot of people build up a lot of hatred, but I think he built up a double dose to do what he did,” said Margaret Browning.
The gunman's attorney told Channel 2 she was representing him until Thursday, when she withdrew because he was unsatisfied with her negotiating skills. He was due in court on Friday for marijuana and firearms charges. The attorney said the man was a gun buyer and trader.
“His emotional state was very fragile. He was very sensitive, very, very, scared. He has no prior criminal history. He was obsessed with not going to jail,” said Marx’s former attorney Ann Shafer.
The area is still closed as police investigate and drivers are asked to avoid the area of downtown Cumming until further notice.
Rush posted on his Facebook page that he was “ok.”
One construction worker was just feet away when the shooting happened. Gary Womack described the situation as intense.
“It was unreal, like being in the wild west,” Womack said.