A former police officer was killed by local law enforcement and a U.S. court security officer after he fired 20 rounds into a federal court and a nearby YWCA building on Thursday. The shooting, in Wheeling, West Virginia, left no casualties except for the gunman himself. Wheeling police haven't released a motive for the former officer, or officially identified him beyond confirming that the shooter retired from their department in 2000. But he's been identified by local media as Thomas Piccard.
The Wheeling News-Register notes that, among other things, the Wheeling police department sent out a release with the header "Picard Release" on Thursday pertaining to the shootings. U.S. attorney Bill Ihlenfeld, who also ID'd the shooter to local media, described the scene this way:
“We were all working and heard gunshots outside the building. Windows were struck. We have a plan within the office where everyone goes into a safe room away from the windows. We took those steps.”
After firing on the court with what a witness described as a rifle, the gunman apparently started shooting towards the nearby YWCA. A Wheeling police officer and a court security officer then moved in, and fatally shot Piccard. The Wheeling officer is on administrative leave pending an investigation into the use of deadly force — routine police procedure when someone dies. Two security personnel suffered minor injuries from breaking glass.
Police are seeking a warrant to search the gunman's home, both for a motive and for confirmation that he was working alone, according to the AP, who noted that the town of Wheeling was hit hard by steel industry layoffs over the past decade.
(Photo: Downtown Wheeling, W.Va)