Investigators looking for motive in Wheeling courthouse shooting

WHEELING, W.Va. — A former Wheeling police officer fired up to 30 shots into the Wheeling Federal Courthouse Wednesday afternoon before he was shot and killed by police.

A witness told MetroNews the gunman used a rifle, reloading at least once, as he fired at the federal building around 2:45 p.m.

Multiple sources have identified the gunman who died after being shot by law enforcement officers as Thomas Piccard, 55, of Bridgeport, Ohio, a former Wheeling police officer left the department in 2000.

Bill Ihlenfeld, the U.S. Attorney for West Virginia’s Northern District, was in his office when the shooting occurred.

We were all working and heard gunshots outside the building,” Ihlenfeld told MetroNews. “Windows were struck. We have a plan within the office where everyone goes into a safe room away from the windows. We took those steps.”

On Wednesday evening, Ihlenfeld said three court security guards in the building were injured by flying glass.  The three were treated and released from Wheeling Hospital.

Eyewitness Carla Daniels, who was working in an office nearby, said she heard 25 to 30 shots fired by the gunman.

I saw a guy with a rifle and he was just pointing in toward the federal building and just shooting,” Daniels said. “After he fired so many shots, he reached down on the ground and he must have reloaded and he went back to shooting again.”

Ihlenfeld said the quick response by law enforcement made the difference in the incident.

“If it weren’t for the heroic efforts of the officers who confronted this gunman, it could have been a lot worse than it was,” he said.

Police gave no word on a motive. The investigation continued on Wednesday night with search warrants being obtained for the vehicle police believe Piccard drove to the scene as well as for his home in Ohio.

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