MetroNews staff photo

WHEELING, W.Va. — U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld said the former Wheeling police officer who fired more than two dozen gunshots at the Wheeling Federal Courthouse before being killed Wednesday chose the location for a reason.

“I think it will become clear (through the investigation) that is was a disagreement or a dislike of the federal government.  I think that’s why he chose the target that he chose,” said Ihlenfeld, the U.S. Attorney for West Virginia’s Northern District, on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“I do not believe, in fact I’m confident in saying, he did not have a specific beef with anyone in particular in the federal building. He didn’t have a beef with me or anyone in my office or anyone else that works here.  I think it was more of a general dislike (of the federal government).”

The gunman was identified as Thomas Piccard, 55, of Bridgeport, Ohio, who was a Wheeling police officer until he resigned from the department in 2000.

On Thursday morning, Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie would not talk about what prompted Piccard’s resignation 13 years ago.  “We want to make sure when we address the public and explain history and why, unfortunately, we got to this point, that the information is accurate,” McKenzie said.

Piccard’s home in Bridgeport and the vehicle he drove into Wheeling this week were searched Wednesday night into Thursday morning and Ihlenfeld said federal investigators were analyzing all of the evidence gathered.

Ihlenfeld said Piccard had an “assault style” rifle with him, along with extra ammunition that was not used, and a handgun. Other agencies have identified the “assault style” rifle as an AK-47.  A witness said Piccard stopped shooting to reload once.

At this point, Ihlenfeld said he does think Piccard had a specific human target.

“There were individuals on foot and in automobiles in the parking lot where the shooter was set up that he could have shot. He could have targeted those individuals,” said Ihlenfeld. None of those people were shot.

Three court security guards, who were injured by flying glass, were treated and released from Wheeling Hospital.

Ihlenfeld was inside the Wheeling Federal Courthouse at the time Piccard started shooting at the building from across the street before 3 p.m. Wednesday.

“When you’re sitting at your desk, talking on the phone or working on your computer and, all of the sudden, the window right next to your head is struck by gunfire, it’s frightening,” Ihlenfeld said.

“(But) no one in the Wheeling federal building should feel like they were targeted in any way. It was the building itself and the government itself.”

McKenzie said such incidents usually don’t happen in Wheeling. “So much that we see and we read and have an understanding of what’s happening across our country, West Virginia is becoming less and less immune to those kinds of things,” he said.

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  • kensgirl

    Sounds like a case of "Falling Down" to me.

  • Spell Checker

    Some reports claim the shooter was recently diagnosed with cancer. It may be a case of "suicide by cop".

    Sorry anti-government people. You'll just have to look elsewhere for your Faux News.

    • DonaldH

      I'm sure he listen to Howard Monroe whom he probably identified as the messenger for our new "fundamentally changed" government--- We need to get Howard off the air so we can begin the emotional healing and well being of our citizenry.. As President Clinton blamed Rush Limbaugh for Timothy McVeigh,, Howard Monroe must be responsible for this guy's actions.

  • RHytonen

    i.e. - it's always all about the money.

    If you want to know who's messing up the government, and why they make bad decisions, just look at who's profiting the most from them.
    So much that they even control goverment (and the courts, and the "news" that's chosen, or even fabricated, to "report") and create laws for MORE profit.

    That's the ONE truth that transcends left and right philosophies. It's not liberal v. conservative, it's the rich against the poor, business v. the individual.

    And if you want to know who started that; again, just follow the money.
    Look at who benefits.
    Look at who's winning.
    That faction got all its money from the other.
    The rich are such because they got it from, and thus created, the poor.

    This irrefutable fact of logic is nowhere near esotetic enough to even argue.

    The remedy is just as clear.

    • DonaldH

      Shall we cut through the usual banter that makes bulletin board debating so much fun.

      Are you of the belief that the "JEWS" are behind the evil that has befallen our Nation?

      • DonaldH

        The immediate above is addressed @ RHytonen

    • Hop'sHip

      Not clear to me. What is your suggested remedy? Not all who are richer than others got that way by exploiting the poor. Some level of inequality is a natural and desireable state. It provides incentive for people to improve their lot in life and that of their children. Many businesses serve well both their employees and their customers. I could agree that there is too much money influence on public policy, but your logic beyond that proved too esoteric for me.

      • DonaldH

        And pray tell us where your opinions lay as to where you could agree "too much money influence on public policy" comes from. Do you believe that the overly influential money comes from the Super PACs and lobbyist groups or do you believe too much influencing money comes from the Government itself?

        I always detected a hint of a social stratification concept about you so, please, be specific in your examples as to what group (s) you deem it natural as well as "desirable" to be unequal to others.

  • David

    I do not believe he was any more then a citizen, who became enraged by the continuing actions of all of our politicians.
    The "average" is busy trying to just get by these days. The "deranged" ones are taking action, how ever misguided it may be.

  • TruthTeller

    Skeptic=zombie...Go to and wake up with the real news!!!

    • Troy S

      Alex Jones is paranoid kook and so are you.

      Keep following the fat fearmongerer blindly you dumb sheep..

      BAaaaaH Baaaaah

    • Hop'sHip

      I believe people who ply at this web site prefer to get their conspiracy theories from the likes of Glenn Beck. Jones may be a bit too wacky for even them. They accept that Obama is a Muslim plant but aren't ready to accept that Bush orchestrated 9/11. Beck seems to be better at this, too, since, although Jones has become very rich, Beck has become about 10 times richer.

  • TruthTeller

    He was shooting at the wrong people. He needs to be shooting the Bilderberg Group, Skull and Bones, CFR and Trilateral Commission. They are controlling the President and all wars since the beginning.

    • jb

      Ah! At last someone finally has a hint of truth!

  • Skeptic

    Whack job.