LAS VEGAS (CN) – A 66-year-old man upset after losing a lawsuit regarding his shrinking Social Security benefits opened fire in the lobby of the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse on Monday, killing a court security officer and injuring a deputy marshal before authorities shot and killed him. At least 50 shots can be heard on a witness’ video posted on YouTube.
The shooting, which began at 8 a.m. in the courthouse lobby, spilled out onto Las Vegas Boulevard, and the gunman’s body was found across the street from the courthouse, FBI special agent Joseph Dickey said. The shooter acted alone when he pulled out the shotgun from beneath his jacket and opened fire, and it wasn’t considered an act of terrorism, Dickey said.
The U.S. Marshals Service confirmed that a 65-year-old security officer later died at the hospital, and a 48-year-old deputy marshal is recovering after surgery.
The courthouse was cleared while agents searched the building, and workers were moved to the nearby Las Vegas Academy.
“It was really scary,” said Carolina Rivera, who had just started her morning shift at a nearby Quizno’s restaurant when she heard the gunfire. “The police knocked on my window and told us to close and lock the door and get down.”
The Associated Press identified the shooter as Johnny Lee Wicks, a 66-year-old man who sued the Social Security Administration in April 2008 with allegations that his Social Security benefits were cut because of racism. The complaint was dismissed in September 2008.
The AP also identified the victim as 65-year-old Stanley Cooper, a retired Las Vegas Metro Police Department sergeant.
Wicks also set fire to his home in the early morning hours before the shooting, the AP reported.
After Monday’s shooting, the nearby Regional Justice Center, home to the Clark County Court, also was shut down.
Displaced workers, returning to work after the New Year’s holiday, milled around on street corners while countless police officers and deputy marshals closed off every street and alley in a three-block radius of the courthouse.
U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign have offices in the federal courthouse, which is located on Las Vegas Boulevard between the Strip and the Fremont Street Experience. Neither senator was inside the building during the shooting.
“My thoughts are with the victims of today’s shooting and their families,” Reid said in a statement. “The law enforcement personnel who protect the courthouse put their lives at risk every day to keep the people who are inside safe and I greatly appreciate their service.”