WHEELING, W.Va. — U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld says there is evidence personal problems may have been part of what motivated a former Wheeling police officer to open fire at the Wheeling Federal Courthouse back on Oct. 9.
“There are some pieces of information that, if you put them all together, might provide some clarity as to what was going on in his mind,” said Ihlenfeld of Thomas Piccard, 55, of Bridgeport, Ohio.
Piccard was shot and killed shortly after firing 23 rounds from a 7.62 assault rifle and three rounds from a pistol outside of the building. He was the only person who died in the incident that injured two security officers. They were hit by flying glass.
At the time, witnesses told MetroNews Piccard was not shooting at people in the area.
Ihlenfeld said a five page document, found on Piccard after his death, along with other writings in his home, detailed his hatred for the federal government. “He was upset with the federal government as a whole, more on a national scale than a local scale, I guess, is the best way to put it, without giving him too much of a platform,” he said.
In addition, Ihlenfeld said Piccard was facing serious medical problems, which some reports have indicated included cancer, and also recently “had his heart broken” by a woman.
On Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” Ihlenfeld confirmed Piccard legally purchased the Romanian assault rifle used, along with ammunition, from a firearms dealer in Wheeling six days before the shootings.
“There were no red flags. No issues with the purchase. It was all in accordance with the law,” said Ihlenfeld of the background check that came with the purchase. He said Piccard had owned the handgun for two years.
Piccard resigned from the Wheeling Police Department in 2000.