Jefferson County courthouse shooting reminiscent of 2005 Tyler courthouse shoot-out

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 19, 2012, 4:54pm

The Smith County Courthouse in Tyler was the site of shooting in 2005.

TYLER - The recent courthouse shooting in Jefferson County is reminiscent of a 2005 courthouse shooting in Smith County that made national headlines when a Tyler man opened fire at a child support hearing and killed two people, including his ex-wife.

According to news archives, the incident occurred on Feb. 24, 2005, when David Hernandez Arroyo opened fire outside of the courthouse in Tyler.

Armed with a semi-automatic rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest, Arroyo shot and killed his ex-wife Maribel Estrada, who was scheduled to attend a hearing about her ex-husband's failure to pay child support for their 9-year-old son. At the east entrance to the courthouse, Estrada was shot in the head and died instantly.

Arroyo also shot and wounded his 22-year-old son, David Arroyo Jr., who was attending the hearing in support of his mother.

Courthouse officials and law enforcement officers responded to the shooting and began to exchange fire with Arroyo. Arroyo was able to injure several police officers and force them to retreat.

After hearing the gunfire from his downtown loft, Tyler resident Mark Wilson, who was licensed to carry a concealed weapon, intervened during the shooting. Wilson approached Arroyo from behind and was able to shoot him several times.

Wilson did not know Arroyo was wearing a bulletproof vest, which rendered his shots virtually ineffective. Arroyo returned Wilson's fire, fatally shooting the civilian.

Wilson's efforts are credited at saving Arroyo Jr.'s life and for giving law enforcement officials time to react to the shooting.

After more than 100 rounds were fired, Arroyo led law enforcement on an extended car chase on Highway 271 North. Arroyo shot at Tyler police officers during the high speed pursuit and police returned fire, eventually shooting and killing Arroyo.

The Tyler courthouse shooting became an example used in both sides of the gun control debate. It was used to demonstrate the importance of law enforcement officials having access to rifles in shoot-out type situations and also used to show the consequences of citizens becoming involved in law enforcement activities.

Following the 2005 shooting, the Smith County Courthouse changed its security procedures by closing the east entrance. More than seven years later, the county is hoping to reopen the east entrance in order to help accommodate long lines of jurors and attorneys.

At a cost of approximately $23,000, Smith County has ordered X-ray equipment and a walk-through metal detector which should be installed this summer.

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