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Man Shot at Seattle Federal Courthouse

June 20, 2005

SEATTLE (AP) _ A man carrying what appeared to be a hand grenade was shot Monday in the lobby of the downtown Federal Courthouse after he walked inside the building and made threats, police said.

Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said that the man had not moved since being shot and appeared to be dead.

The man, wearing a backback strapped to his chest, entered the public lobby of the 10-month-old Courthouse just before noon, carrying what appeared to be a ``World War II-type″ hand grenade, Kerlikowske said. Witnesses said he tried to get past security, began shouting threats and was then shot when confronted by police and federal agents, police spokeswoman Christie-Lynne Bonner said.

Paramedics could not approach the man for more than an hour until bomb squad members could determine it was safe. Kerlikowske said the backpack was examined and did not appear to contain an explosive device.

U.S. Marshal Eric Robertson said the entire 23-story federal building was evacuated, but some employees were allowed to return while the bomb squad worked. Streets surrounding the building also were cordoned off as dozens of police cars responded, jamming noontime traffic.

A female janitor working told Seattle television station KING that she saw the man in the lobby and watched as police walked toward him.

She said the man yelled: ``Don’t come near me, don’t come near me! Stay away, stay away!″

Elizabeth Piontkowski, 21, of Des Moines, was on jury duty on the 14th floor of the courthouse shortly before noon when a court official told members the building had been locked down.

Jurors were told the building was being evacuated because of a bomb threat, Piontkowski said. They were ushered outside and told to move quickly.

Before exiting the building, Piontkowski said, she and other jurors could see police outside with their guns drawn. She said she didn’t hear any gunshots.

``Then the cops started yelling at us to run and we started running down the street,″ she said.

The new federal courthouse opened last August. Many of the major security features of the $171 million high-rise at Seventh Avenue and Stewart Street are disguised. Even glass walls that permit ample sunlight are blast-resistant.

The new courthouse houses the U.S. Marshals Service, judges, support staff and court clerks, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office, bankruptcy courts, and probation and pretrial services.

It holds 13 district courtrooms, five bankruptcy courtrooms, and 22 suites for judges and their staff. Secure hallways lead from cell blocks into the courtrooms, so prisoners don’t contact the public _ unlike in the old building.

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