A gunman opened fire in a Delaware courthouse on Monday morning, killing two women and wounding two police officers before being shot dead.
NBC 10 reports that the alleged shooter, David T. Matusiewicz, had been in a bitter child custody battle with his his ex-wife, 39-year-old Christine Belford, who was one of the two women shot to death. The other woman has not yet been identified.
The deadly incident occurred at the New Castle County Courthouse at 500 North King Street in Wilmington at around 8:00 Monday morning. Matusiewicz allegedly entered the lobby of the building and opened fire before he reached the courthouse metal detectors. Two Capitol Police officers were injured in an ensuing firefight but were saved by their bulletproof vests.
Delaware State Police Sergeant Paul Shavack told reporters at a news conference that investigators are determining whether Matusiewicz was shot dead by officers or whether he took his own life.
Police believe Matusiewicz acted alone but nearby streets and schools were placed on lockdown while officers scoured the area and thoroughly searched the courthouse building.
Witnesses reported seeing terrified courthouse staff and visitors scrambling for cover when the shooting began.
"I saw the gentleman and a bunch of ladies and people running out of the court building," witness Irvin Neal, who was on his way to the courthouse, told NBC 10. "I just hear all the bam, bam, bam, so I ran too. And the gentleman that passed me told me not to go in there." That man told Neal that the gunman "pointed the gun at him, passed him by and shot everybody else."
The Wilmington News-Journalreports that Matusiewicz and Belford were locked in a long, bitter battle for custody of the couple's three daughters following a failed five-year marriage. In August 2007, Matusiewicz kidnapped the girls, then ages 7, 6 and 4, before fleeing with them on an 18-month journey that took them to Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. In March 2009, he was found with the girls in a squalid trailer in Nicaragua.
Matusiewicz, a former optometrist, has served prison time for kidnapping and for bank fraud. He was sentenced to four years for using Belford's name to secure a $249,000 home equity loan. His parental rights were terminated while he was in prison.
NBC 10 reports that Matusiewicz was due in court on Monday for a child custody hearing.
Police believe the Matusiewicz was targeting Belford.
"This was not a random shooting," Shavack told reporters.