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Authorities familiar with Forsyth Courthouse gunman

POSTED: June 7, 2014 12:17 a.m.
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CUMMING — The heavily armed gunman who shot a veteran sheriff’s deputy in the leg Friday morning outside the Forsyth County Courthouse was identified as 48-year-old Dennis Ronald Marx of Cumming.

Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper said that Marx, who was shot and killed by other deputies, acted alone.

Marx has been referred to as a “sovereign citizen” who was anti-law enforcement and anti-government. Piper couldn’t confirm that, but said Marx was due in court Friday morning on drug and weapons charges.

According to Sheriff’s Maj. Rick Doyle, authorities believe Marx had legal permits to possess the firearms used during the attack. They included assault rifles, among other weapons.

“Apparently, he’s a gun dealer and trader,” Doyle said.

Piper noted that Marx was no stranger to law enforcement, had a home on Lakeside Trail east of Cumming and near Lake Lanier, though he had not been living there for at least 10 days.

Authorities are searching the home.

“We are quite certain it’s booby-trapped with the purpose of killing law enforcement,” he said, adding it appears Marx had been preparing for the assault for quite some time.

The Holiday Inn Express off Market Place Boulevard, where Marx was staying, is considered a crime scene, as is his home, according to Doyle.

Doyle added that the assumption is Marx’s home is “booby-trapped to the hilt because he wanted to kill as many cops as he could.”

“It’s going to be a long, painstaking process to search his house, search the hotel and search his vehicle, which is there at the hotel,” he said.

According to court records, Marx faced many drug-related charges — including manufacturing marijuana, possessing a firearm or knife during the commission of a felony and possession with intent to distribute — from an August 2011 incident in Forsyth County.

The case was at the center of his suit against the sheriff’s office, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Gainesville.

Also in August 2011, authorities filed court papers seeking to seize two dozen handguns and rifles, 71 gun magazines and $24,311 in cash from Marx.

The attorney who represented Marx in the civil seizure case, Richard Grossman, said officers found the weapons cache after an undercover officer bought drugs from Marx.

Grossman said another attorney negotiated a "very favorable" plea deal for Marx.

During the assault Friday, Piper said Marx “had body armor on, he was throwing tear gas, grenades, he was throwing smoke grenades, pepper spray grenades and he also had a gas mask on ... he also had flex cuffs ready to apply to people.”

“He came prepared,” Piper said. “It was very close to being a major catastrophe.”

Piper would not confirm any court-related information, possible family ties or motives.

“What kind of motive do you have for something like this, to try to pull a full-on assault at a courthouse,” Piper said. “There is no motive.”

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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