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Shots kill 1, wound 3 outside Texas courthouse

BEAUMONT, Texas — A man at court with family members opened fire outside a Texas courthouse Wednesday, killing one person and wounding at least three before briefly taking hostages at a nearby business, police said.

The gunman had been inside the Jefferson County Courthouse in Beaumont but went out to his truck, drew a weapon and began shooting, police said.

A detective outside the courthouse fired back and quickly was joined by law enforcement officers from nearby buildings, police said.

The gunman retreated to his truck and, still firing, ran over one of the people who had been shot as he drove away. He drove about three blocks and abandoned the truck in the street before entering a nearby business, police said.

With hostages inside, the gunman spoke by phone to police and told them he was wounded. He eventually surrendered and was taken to an area hospital, where he remained in custody Wednesday. He had not been formally charged.

“It was crazy,” Beaumont Police Chief Jimmy Singletary said. “He was shooting. Our guys were shooting. It was a classic shootout.”

A pickup truck riddled with at least a dozen bullet holes remained in the middle of the street Wednesday afternoon.

James Gibson, one of the owners of Richard Construction, said about 50 to 60 employees were inside when the gunman entered. An assault rifle believed to belong to the gunman was still inside the building, Gibson said.

Authorities did not say why the suspect was at the courthouse. They declined to identify the victims or the type of weapon the gunman used.

“It was pandemonium,” said Judge Larry Gist, whose office is across the street from the main courthouse building.

“Once it started, it was kind of like the Fourth of July,” said nearby businessman Ricky Gandy. “Several shots, I imagine, I’m guessing at least 30 shots all together.”

Associated Press writer Nomaan Merchant in Dallas contributed to this report.

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