ST. JOSEPH, Mich. (WOOD) — The Berrien County Courthouse will remain closed through Tuesday after two bailiffs were shot and killed during an inmate transfer Monday.
“Our hearts are torn apart. They were our friends, they were my colleagues. I’ve known them for over 30 years. So it’s a sad day, ” a visibly emotional Sheriff Paul Bailey said during a 6:15 p.m. news conference updating the investigation.
Bailey said a male deputy and a civilian also injured in the shooting remained in stable condition Monday evening at a local hospital.
TRANSFER GONE WRONG
The shooting happened around 2:15 p.m. at the courthouse on Port Street in downtown St. Joseph, after the inmate got into a fight with a bailiff and the deputy just outside of a holding cell, Bailey said. He said the officers had just secured the holding cell door when the inmate began fighting them and disarmed one of the officers. Bailey said the inmate shot two bailiffs and a deputy before making it to a third floor hallway where he shot a civilian in the arm.
Bailey said two other bailiffs took down the suspect with the help of several other officers.
The unnamed suspect was killed.
Bailey said the two officers who died were bailiffs for the last ten years. He said he would release the victims’ names Monday night after notifying their relatives. He said as soon as Michigan State Police are finished processing the scene, the victims’ bodies will be removed from the courthouse and taken to Grand Rapids for autopsies.
‘A TERRIBLE DAY IN A WONDERFUL COMMUNITY’
Gov. Rick Snyder visited Berrien County Monday evening to address the shooting.
He called it “a terrible day in a wonderful community” and asked for prayers from all Michiganders.
“This is terrible and we need to be supportive of law enforcement. We need to support the families that have lost someone,” Snyder said.
Bailey said Michigan State Police were interviewing courthouse employees who were on the third floor during the incident. Counselors will be on hand to help those who are grieving, he said.
‘WE WILL MOVE FORWARD’
The sheriff said he’s been overwhelmed with supportive calls and texts.
“We need prayers and the families need your prayers especially. And we will move forward,” Bailey added.