Local News

Courtroom fight leads to shooting outside Durham courthouse

Posted March 11, 2010 11:43 a.m. EST
Updated March 11, 2010 6:22 p.m. EST

— An argument inside a Durham County courtroom Thursday morning led to a shooting near the courthouse that left a man injured.

Police said the victim was in the 100 block of East Parrish Street when he was shot in the foot shortly after 11 a.m. He was taken to Duke University Hospital with what appeared to be non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Durham police did not say what the fight was about or who might have been involved – only that the argument started in a District Court criminal courtroom.

Capt. Bill Wrenn, with the Durham County Sheriff's Office, said deputies in court asked the parties involved to leave and that the arguing continued outside the courtroom, where deputies intervened again.

That's when the parties involved went to the street and someone pulled a gun out of a vehicle.

"There were never any weapons inside the courthouse," said Wrenn, who is in charge of building security at the courthouse. "We have very good door security officers here, and they spend a lot of time checking to make sure that doesn't happen."

Investigators said the victim reported that someone fired gunshots from a gold-colored vehicle with tinted windows, but they released no other details of the vehicle.

Witnesses reported hearing three gunshots.

"There was a car, tan car, in the parking lot behind our building, and it immediately started backing up very quickly, and then you could hear people yelling that somebody had been shot," said Shelley Brown, who was making copies in a nearby law office.

Police have not made any arrests in the case, and they urge anyone with information about the crime to call Durham police at 919-560-4935, extension 29416, or Durham Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200.

Roads near the courthouse – Main Street at Church Street and a small section of East Parrish Street at North Church Street – were blocked off for more than an hour while police searched in the area.

Thursday's shooting is not the first near the courthouse. About a year ago, there was another shooting in a nearby church parking lot.

"It's just the nature of the beast," Wrenn said. "People come here, and they see who they were mad at to begin with and tempers flare."

About 18 deputies work inside the courthouse, and about 20 other law enforcement officers are there conducting business at any given time, Wrenn said.