A man charged with opening fire in a Minnesota courthouse after being convicted in a sex case, wounding a prosecutor and a witness, died at a Duluth hospital Tuesday after showing signs of "medical distress" in jail the previous evening, officials said.
Daniel Schlienz, 42, was taken to Essentia Health St. Mary's Medical Center on Monday night and died about 8 a.m. Tuesday with family members present, according to the sheriff's office, the Duluth News Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/vvfDnf).
St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman said he was not aware of any medical condition that Schlienz had before Monday, when he exhibited flu-like symptoms and was treated by medical staff at the jail before taken to the hospital. Litman said the county medical examiner will perform an autopsy, although foul play was not suspected. There were no signs of any injury from someone else or self-inflicted, he said.
"But we just don't know that for sure until we see the autopsy results. It didn't appear to be any outside influence. It appeared he became sick and got worse very quickly," Litman said.
Schlienz was being held in the jail on $2 million in bail for the courthouse shooting of two people in Dec. 15 in Grand Marais. The criminal complaint says after he was convicted of criminal sexual conduct, he retrieved a .25-caliber handgun from his vehicle and then shot Cook County Attorney Tim Scannell and Grand Marais resident Gregory Thompson. Both were hospitalized for five days.
John Lillie, Schlienz's defense attorney for the criminal sexual conduct trial, said his client didn't appear sick at the time.
"I didn't notice any kind of coughing or wheezing or anything like that. Maybe a runny nose or a cold, but certainly nothing serious that stuck out during the trial," Lillie said.
According to the criminal complaint, Schlienz told officers he meant only to confront Scannell about the case, but when he heard Thompson thank Scannell for prosecuting, he decided to shoot both men. Schlienz allegedly told officers that he had a plan to shoot but not kill Scannell if he was found guilty.
Lillie said the sudden death adds more sorrow to an already traumatic series of events.
"I feel terrible for his parents who already had so much sorrow to deal with and now have to deal with this," Lillie said. "Whether this brings closure to the victims, I don't know. Maybe it will make it worse."
Information from: Duluth News Tribune, http://www.duluthsuperior.com