Judge, deputy wounded in Wash. courthouse attack

AP News
Posted: Mar 10, 2012 4:07 AM
Judge, deputy wounded in Wash. courthouse attack

Dozens of law enforcement officers joined the hunt for a man who stabbed a judge and shot a sheriff's deputy with her own weapon in a courthouse struggle.

A team that included the State Patrol as well as officers from five counties has made "significant headway in identifying the suspect," Grays Harbor County Undersheriff Rick Scott said late Friday night. "We believe we have some good leads."

The attacker apparently ran from the county courthouse with the officer's .45-caliber handgun. The motive for the Friday attack in the coastal town of Montesano, about 90 miles southwest of Seattle, wasn't clear.

Judge David Edwards and Deputy Polly Davin were treated and released from a hospital hours after the attack, which prompted a lockdown of the small town of about 4,000 residents. The lockdown on schools was later lifted, but afterschool activities were canceled.

As many as 100 officers joined in the manhunt at its peak Friday, Scott said.

Davin responded to a report of a suspicious person at the courthouse and confronted a man, Scott said. During a struggle, she was stabbed with either a small knife or scissors.

The judge intervened, striking the assailant, who then stabbed him, authorities said.

Davin reached for her gun, but it was wrestled away by the man, who shot twice, striking her in the shoulder before fleeing, Scott said.

"He doesn't know me and I don't know him," Edwards told reporters Friday night from his home, saying the attacker was a stranger.

The judge said he was on the third floor of the courthouse when he saw the deputy being attacked on the first floor and ran to help.

"He had a weapon in his hand, a knife or something, and he was stabbing her, and that's what I got stabbed with," Edwards said.

After the shooting, the judge said the attacker turned and looked at him and ran out the door with the deputy's gun.

"I'm OK, she's OK, that's what's important right now," Edwards said.

The attack comes less than three months after Edwards had joined a lawsuit filed over county budget cuts he said were making the courthouse less safe. The courthouse is not equipped with a metal detector and there was no on-site security on Friday, Scott said.

"Our courthouse is one of the few of its size that doesn't have full-time security," he said. "We just had a discussion about courthouse security less than a week ago. The need for that is certainly illustrated by situations like this."

The judge put it even more bluntly, saying, "You can't get less security than we have."

There have been a number of dangerous episodes inside the courthouse over the last two years, including a defendant charging at one judge in a courtroom and a man armed with a knife asking directions to the office of a judge, the lawsuit filed in December said.

"Anyone can enter the courthouse carrying weapons," the lawsuit said.

According to budget information from the county, the superior court budget was cut from $733,320 in 2010 to $645,818 for 2012.

Edwards was appointed to Grays Harbor County Superior Court in 2007 by Gov. Chris Gregoire. He had been a private attorney, and had also served as a prosecutor in the late 1970s.

Davin is a former Daily World reporter who became a sheriff's deputy in 1998.


Associated Press writers Doug Esser and Manuel Valdes in Seattle, Shannon Dininny in Yakima, Wash., and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.