Inquest set in courthouse shooting


The Clark County coroner's office has scheduled a Feb. 19 inquest into the recent shooting death of a man who opened fire inside the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse.

A spokeswoman at the coroner's office said Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman will preside over the hearing, which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in the Regional Justice Center. The courtroom has not yet been assigned.

The coroner's office holds an inquest whenever someone dies at the hands of a law enforcement officer. In this case, several court security officers and deputy U.S. marshals fired 81 shots at Johnny Lee Wicks in a gunbattle that crossed Las Vegas Boulevard.

The spokeswoman at the coroner's office said Wicks' death was caused by multiple gunshot wounds. Authorities have not released the names of the officers who fired at him.

A coroner's jury will be asked to decide whether the homicide was justifiable, excusable or criminal.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Owens said he and Chief Deputy District Attorney Christopher Laurent will question witnesses during the hearing.

The coroner's office lists Wicks, 66, as a Los Angeles resident, although he was living in a Las Vegas apartment at the time of his death.

Authorities said Wicks, who had a 1975 murder conviction, torched his apartment on the morning of Jan. 4 and walked about three miles to the federal courthouse. He entered the building about 8 a.m. and opened fire with his 12-gauge shotgun.

Court security officer Stan Cooper, 72, was killed inside the building. The coroner's office spokeswoman said Cooper's death was caused by a gunshot wound to the torso. In the gunfight that ensued, Deputy U.S. Marshal Richard "Joe" Gardner, 48, was shot in the arm. Wicks fired five shots before he was killed.

Four months earlier, Wicks had lost a federal lawsuit in which he sought to reinstate some disability benefits that were cut when he moved from California to Nevada.

 

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