CUMMING — A man armed with guns, explosives and other supplies shot and wounded a deputy Friday outside a Georgia courthouse and was equipped to take hostages once he got inside, officials said.
The man also hadn’t been living at his home for at least 10 days and may have booby-trapped it with explosives, authorities said. Bomb squads were checking both the home and the courthouse.
The suspect, Dennis Marx, was shot and killed at the scene, said Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper. Marx had driven up to the courthouse and threw out smoke devices and homemade spike strips to prevent officers from reaching him. Both homemade and commercially made explosives were in his car, suggesting he had planned the assault for days, Piper said.
Marx also had water and other supplies, including zip ties, which can be used to bind people’s hands. Piper said the wounded deputy prevented others from getting hurt when he encountered Marx, though it was not clear if that deputy killed the suspect.
“When the deputy engaged him outside, it saved lives,” Piper said. “The entire situation was solved by that deputy’s actions.”
Few details about Marx were known, though Piper said he had been known to authorities for some time. Marx had filed a civil rights complaint against the sheriff’s department in 2013, according to court records.
The complaint accused the sheriff’s department of using excessive force and illegal searches. Marx said in the complaint that officers hit him when he was standing with his hands up, used chemical agents to make him believe an explosion or fire had occurred and used an extra set of handcuffs that cut off circulation to his hands.
An attorney representing the sheriff’s department in the case was not immediately available.
The deputy, who has been with the department for 25 years, was shot below his knee and is expected to recover. His name has not been released.
The courthouse and nearby businesses were evacuated as the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigated.
The streets in the neighborhood where Marx lived are steep, narrow and lined with modest homes nestled close together in a wooded area. Neighbor Dorothy Varano said it’s a calm and peaceful place to live, where neighbors are friendly but don’t involve themselves in each other’s business.
Varano has lived just up the street from where Marx lived for the last 10 years. She said she had a run-in with him seven or eight years ago when she was walking her Maltese, Daisy, past his house, and his dog attacked hers. His dog grabbed hers in its jaws and shook the Maltese back and forth. Marx told her his dog wasn’t being aggressive and was just playing with her dog like a toy.
She said her dog was badly injured and required expensive vet treatment, and she was surprised when he offered to pay her vet bill. He paid it, gave her a small electronic device that emits a sound supposed to stop an attacking dog and gave her a box of candy.
Still, she said she decided long ago she would steer clear of Marx.
“I decided he was not a person I was going to cross in any way, because he would probably slash my tires or put something in my gas tank,” she said.
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