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Courthouse reopens after shooting

Wounded deputy undergoes second surgery

POSTED: June 9, 2014 4:01 p.m.
Jim Dean/

Workers spent the weekend repairing damage to the courthouse so the building could be ready for business Monday morning.

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CUMMING — Forsyth County’s clerk of courts said it was business as usual in the courthouse Monday, three days after an armed man attempted to storm the building in a hail of gunfire.

“It was a little surreal, but everyone seems to be doing pretty well today,” Greg Allen said.

He added that the grand jury started its session Monday morning, however trial jurors were told not to come to court until Tuesday.

“[We] weren’t sure if the courthouse was going to be ready,” he said. “... We just delayed it a day to give us time and make sure everything was OK.”

The gunman, 48-year-old Dennis Ronald Marx of Cumming, was shot and killed in the attack by Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies, who engaged him outside the courthouse.

According to the sheriff’s office, Marx was scheduled to appear in court that morning to enter a guilty plea on drug and weapon charges from August 2011. Instead, he began a “full frontal assault” that officials said had involved extensive preparation.

Marx had also sued the sheriff’s office in federal court over his 2011 arrest, claiming mistreatment.

Marx alleged civil rights violations by the agency and individual deputies, including excessive force and unlawful search and seizures among other constitutional violations, for which he sought injunctive and compensatory relief.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Monday afternoon that an autopsy Saturday revealed that Marx had died as the result of multiple gunshot wounds.

Sheriff Duane Piper requested the GBI conduct a use-of-force investigation, which is under way. When the investigation is completed, it will be provided to Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn.

Both Marx’s home on Lakeside Trail, east of Cumming and near Lake Lanier, as well as a hotel where he had been staying off Market Place Boulevard have been cleared, authorities said.

According to County Manager Doug Derrer, Marx’s vehicle destroyed a wrought iron bench as it came onto the courthouse plaza Friday morning, but the rest of the damage was primarily glass and cosmetic.

“Minor damage was done to several hand rails, an architectural column, the flag pole, several bricks, door trim casings and a historical marker sign,” Derrer said. “Two storm windows and two small glass panels at the courthouse were damaged and a single glass panel at the administration building was damaged.”

Some of the glass was knocked out from inside, authorities have said, as deputies sought better angles from which to shoot at Marx.

With the exception of minor touchup painting, all repairs to the courthouse have been made. According to Derrer, the damaged glass panel at the county’s administration building was being measured Monday for replacement.

Derrer said the county’s staff and a local glass provider have made all the repairs, estimated to have cost less than $2,500.

Allen said for the most part, the courthouse doesn’t look any different.

“They fixed all that on Sunday,” Allen said. “They’ve got everything cleaned up.”

Despite being down nine officers, Maj. Rick Doyle said thanks to cross-training the sheriff’s office began last year, the courthouse was fully staffed with officers.

“That’s the whole reason we stressed the cross-training, so we didn’t miss a beat with any of the security protocols here,” he said. “We were prepared for it, so it worked out great.”

In addition to Deputy Daniel Rush, who was wounded while deterring Marx, eight other deputies shot at the gunman during Friday’s incident and were immediately placed under administrative leave.

“They’re all going through their psychological evaluations today and tomorrow and their interviews with the GBI regarding the shooting, so we’re hoping to have them all back on regular duty Wednesday,” Doyle said.

 

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