JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. Sept 20 2019 – The Jackson County Courthouse was closed Wednesday morning after a deputy working security shot an armed man.
Jackson County Sheriff Chuck Phillips said a man with a handgun on his side entered the courthouse around 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The man approached the deputy security guards and showed them the gun, Phillips said. “Words were exchanged” and the man drew his gun, Phillips said. He was shot after drawing his weapon, Phillips said.
The man was airlifted to Huntsville, Phillips said. His condition wasn’t disclosed.
Phillips said the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency State Bureau of Investigation would handle the case since it involves a Jackson County deputy. An ALEA spokesman confirmed they are investigating but would not release more information.
Officials said the courthouse would remain closed Wednesday and reopen Thursday morning.
The last time a shooting occurred at the Jackson County Courthouse was 2006, when a man shot two people on the courthouse lawn after a child custody hearing.
Last year, the Jackson County Commission considered replacing Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputies with private security as a cost-saving measure. They later decided to leave the deputies in place.
Probate Judge Victor Manning’s office is on the same floor as security and he said they could hear the gunshots.
From there everyone in the office jumped into action.
“The ladies that work with me did an excellent job, they got the doors closed. We got all of ourselves plus the customers into the real estate vault and locked ourselves in. We sheltered in place and waited for the sheriff to tell us it was ok to come out. I was terrified, I’m sure everyone else was too,” he recalled.
While they were sheltering in place they had no idea what happened. Deputies later said a man walked into the courthouse and up to security with a gun on his side.
Sheriff Chuck Phillips said, “Words were exchanged, he drew his weapon, our security guard drew his weapon and he was shot.”
It’s something that has rocked the community, business owners nearby say they’re shocked.
“It makes me sad that the world is coming to this,” said Diane Widgeon, owner of the Sassy Nanna. “That people have to use a gun in all these incidents for innocent people.”
Judge Manning says it left its mark on the folks at the courthouse.
“I think everybody will be more cautious and again I think what I’ve learned today is that we, law enforcement officers everywhere are they’re amazing,” said Judge Manning. “We’re very fortunate to have guys and ladies like that who that are willing to get up every morning and take that risk.”
Law enforcement has not revealed the identity of the man who was shot and we do not know why he brought a gun to the courthouse, or what he was intending to do before he was stopped.