Friend: Courthouse gunman 'pushed too far'

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. - A longtime friend of Dennis Marx, the man Forsyth County deputies say attacked the courthouse Friday, said Marx was a good guy who was pushed too far.
 

Investigators said Marx, 48, showed at the courthouse Friday morning wearing bullet proof vests, grenades, and with an arsenal of weapons, to launch a “full frontal attack” on everyone inside. 
 
"There’s no doubt his intent was to occupy the courthouse, take hostages and eventually create a very chaotic scene with mass casualties,” said Sheriff’s Maj. Rick Doyle.
 
Deputies opened fire on Marx, killing him, but not before he shot veteran Corporal Daniel Rush in the leg.  Rush is recovering at North Fulton Hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
 
The friend, who spoke to Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik on the condition of not releasing his name, said he first met Marx in the mid-1980s when Marx worked in maintenance on a building where the friend worked in Roswell.
 
“Just a good person,” the friend told Petchenik.  “Guy that would always help you whenever you needed anything.”
 
But the friend said their paths diverged about 15 years ago when the friend got married and had children.
 
“He smoked pot.  He had a number of car accidents and he was always in bad pain in his back,”  he said. “He was not a drug dealer.  He was not a gun seller or gun runner or anything as is being alleged.”
 
The friend said Marx was deeply troubled by 9/11 and wanted to give back somehow, so he took a job with the TSA for several years.
 
“He was a very patriotic guy. He took 9/11 very seriously. He took his job at TSA very seriously,” the friend said.
 
But Marx’s friend said the Wisconsin native also had problems with authority and often butted heads with superiors.  He also said Marx had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and was on medication.
 
“He was getting treatment.  He was feeling much better,” the friend said.
 
But, the friend said Marx took a turn for the worse in 2011 after Forsyth County’s SWAT team raided his home and arrested him on drug charges.
 
“The SWAT team came and just blew through his house, and that was really the start of his problems,” he said. “If a couple of uniformed officers with a warrant would have knocked on the door he would have gladly let them in.”
 
Channel 2 Action News reported Friday Marx had a federal lawsuit pending against the Sheriff’s Office claiming excessive force during the raid.
 
“They had him hog-tied out back with a shotgun to his head,” the friend said.  “I believe he was tied up for almost eight hours while they went through his house.”
 
Doyle told Petchenik the raid happened under a previous sheriff’s administration, but added that the SWAT team wouldn’t have executed a raid such as that without evidence that Marx might pose a threat.
 
Marx’s friend said after the arrest, Marx couldn’t hold a job or sell his house because he had put up the property as bond to get out of jail.
 
“He was angry,” he said.
 
On Friday, officials said Marx was scheduled to plead guilty to a minor drug charge, which would have carried a 60-day jail sentence. 
 
When he didn’t show up for court, sources told Channel 2’s Mark Winne his attorney went by his house to see where he was. Ninety minutes later, the attack happened.
 
“What he did was wrong.  I’m not saying it was right,” said the longtime friend.  “But we have to look at what’s causing this.”

Authorities said the Forsyth County Courthouse and Administration Building will reopen Monday for normal operations. No jury trials will be held on Monday.