Jefferson County rocked by fatal shooting at courthouse

Marilyn Tennissen Mar. 19, 2012, 11:36am

The Jefferson County Courthouse remains barricaded after a gunman opened fire near the entrance on March 14.

Bartholomew Granger, 41, is accused of killing one and wounding three in a shootout in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Police recovered a .40 caliber Beretta CX-4 Storm, similar to the one shown here, believed to be the gun used by Jefferson County Courthouse shooting suspect Bartholomew Granger.

Minnie Ray Sebolt, 79, of Deweyville was killed when a gunman opened fire outside the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Emergency personnel and law enforcement surround Richard Construction Inc. where accused gunman Bartholomew Granger held employees hostage as he fled from police.

Bright orange paint marks a spot in the parking lot where investigators found evidence, possibly bullet fragments, from the March 14 shooting at the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Several victims of the March 14 shooting were walking in this bricked atrium area at the entrance to the Jefferson County Courthouse on Pearl Street. This photo shows the view looking out toward the parking lots on either side of Milam Street. The second traffic light is Park Street, where the accused gunman crashed his vehicle in the 1100 block near the southern intersection with Milam.

Deputy Chief Zena Stephens of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, left, and Beaumont Police Chief James Singletary held a press conference on March 14, about two hours after a gunman killed one person and injured three others outside the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Remains of crime scene tape used to secure the area can be seen across from the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce building on Park Street. Orange paint on the street marks where the gunman abandoned his vehicle as he was fleeing from the courthouse.

It was around 11:20 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15, and Beaumont Police Chief James Singletary was in back of the police station "talking to the guys" during shift change when he heard the sound of gunfire coming from the county courthouse next door.

What happened next was described by Singletary as a "running gun battle, like you see in the movies" between law enforcement officers and a man with a gun outside the Jefferson County Courthouse.

The accused gunman, who authorities have identified as 41-year-old Bartholomew Granger, allegedly opened fire outside the courthouse at around 11:21 a.m. By noon, one woman was dead, three others were injured and Granger himself was wounded and in custody.

Jefferson County Sheriff Mitch Woods said at a press conference that Granger was on trial for aggravated sexual assault of a child in Judge John Stevens' Criminal District Court. He is accused of sexually assaulting a relative in his Beaumont home in 2003. Testimony began Tuesday, March 13, and was to continue Wednesday afternoon.

Two of the victims in the shooting rampage have been identified as Granger's 20-year-old daughter, Samantha Jackson, and her mother Claudia Jackson, Granger's former common-law wife. The women are witnesses for the prosecution in Granger's trial.

On Tuesday jurors heard emotional testimony from Samantha Jackson, and the trial was to resume at 1 p.m., Wednesday.

Officials believe Granger, who was living in Houston, had been inside the courthouse Wednesday morning � he is seen on courthouse security videos outside before the doors opened as well as going through a security line.

At some point, Granger left the building and went to his truck in the courthouse parking lot. Authorities allege Granger retrieved a gun from the vehicle and opened fire.

Police say he shot his daughter Samantha Jackson and then ran over her with his truck. As of June 20, she remains in critical condition at an area hospital.

Her mother, Claudia Jackson, was also hit outside the courthouse doors, but she managed to run back inside the building.

The wounded woman made it to the Jefferson County Clerk's office, which is located across from the courthouse entrance. Media reports say Jefferson County Clerk Carolyn Guidry led the bleeding Claudia Jackson and about 100 other terrified employees and visitors to a courthouse basement for safety.

In the confusion immediately following the shooting, the presence of a victim in the basement led to false reports that the shooter had made it inside the courthouse with a gun.

Claudia Jackson was treated at a local hospital for minor injuries and released that afternoon.

Another victim, identified only as a Hispanic female, was shot in the hand and was also released from medical treatment. She was not connected to Granger's trial.

Neither was 79-year-old Minnie Ray Sebolt of Deweyville, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials said Sebolt was an innocent bystander only in downtown Beaumont that morning because she had driven a friend to the courthouse to conduct some personal business.

As Granger fired outside the courthouse, authorities say seven Beaumont police officers and two Jefferson County sheriff's deputies returned fire.

"He was shooting at us and shooting multiple rounds and running like crazy," Singletary said. "It was a classic shootout here and our guys handled it very well."

Granger then allegedly fled the scene in his tan pickup truck. Officers shot out the truck's windshield and tires about a block from the courthouse near the Beaumont Chamber of Commerce offices.

He then took off on foot with law enforcement in pursuit. Officials believe Granger had been shot, but managed to run another block to Richard Construction Inc. in the 1100 block of Neches Street.

Singletary said the employees in the fabricating business "refused to be victims" and were able to take the bleeding suspect's gun � a .40 caliber Beretta CX-4 Storm � as he drifted in and out of consciousness. Employees then opened the large metal doors of the warehouse and allowed officers from BPD's Special Weapons and Tactics unit to enter and secure the building and officers to take the suspect into custody.

At 12:12 p.m., Granger was transported to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. He was released a short time later and is currently in custody in the Jefferson County Jail.

Woods said Granger has been charged with one count of murder and is being held on a $4 million bond -- $3 million for the murder charge and $1 million for the revoked bond on the aggravated sexual assault charge.

The Jefferson County Courthouse remained closed Thursday, March 15, as law enforcement officials pieced together evidence from the large crime scene. They are receiving assistance from other agencies including the Texas Rangers and the Department of Public Safety.

"He (Granger) had taken the stance that today was the day he was going to do some damage, and he did," Singletary said.

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