No one heard Johnny Lee Wicks utter a word during his Jan. 4 shooting rampage at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in downtown Las Vegas.
"He just walked nonchalantly like he didn't have a care in the world," court security officer Arthur Gennaro Jr. testified Friday.
Gennaro, one of seven officers who fired a total of 85 shots that morning, took the witness stand during a coroner's inquest into Wicks' death.
Although the outcome -- jurors ruled unanimously that all seven officers acted justifiably -- was a foregone conclusion, the hearing gave the public its first comprehensive look at the events surrounding the courthouse shooting. A composite video and 911 recordings were played for the jury, which heard testimony from 10 witnesses.
Inquests, which result in advisory verdicts, are held whenever someone dies at the hands of law enforcement officers in Clark County.
"I feel that the officers involved acted in the best interest of public safety and did what they had to do," juror Mike Bluett, 52, said afterward.
Evidence presented during the inquest revealed that court security officer Stan Cooper, 72, was sitting in a chair at the courthouse entrance when Wicks entered the building shortly after 8 a.m. and fatally shot him through the opening of a metal detector.
A silent surveillance video from the courthouse lobby showed Cooper rising out of the chair and slumping to his right before collapsing on the floor a few feet away. Cooper, who was shot in the torso by the initial blast from Wicks' 12-gauge shotgun, never had a chance to draw his own weapon.
Other officers returned fire, however, and a medical examiner testified that Wicks, 66, died after being struck by 14 bullets.
No one representing Wicks attended the inquest.
Gennaro was stationed by an X-ray machine at the entrance of the federal courthouse when Wicks entered the building. The security officer recalled seeing the barrel of a gun rise up from under the man's trench coat.
"That's when I backed up a few steps, and his weapon went off and shot," Gennaro testified.
The security officer continued to back up and heard two more shots before he saw the gunman turn and exit the building through the same door he entered.
Gennaro said he still could see the barrel of the man's gun through the building's glass entrance.
"I thought he was going to come back in and continue firing," the security officer said.
At the same time, court security officer William Sherman fired five shots from inside the building at Wicks, piercing a window pane at the entrance.
Gennaro said he heard more gunfire outside before he walked past Cooper, who lay on the lobby floor bleeding, and exited the building. When he reached the top of a stairway connected to a plaza in front of the courthouse, Gennaro could see Wicks on the other side of Las Vegas Boulevard.
"It looked like he was reloading his weapon, or attempting to," the security officer testified.
Gennaro said he yelled at Wicks to drop his weapon but then saw the man raise the barrel and point it in his direction.
"That's when I took my first shot," the witness said.
A Las Vegas police homicide detective said Gennaro fired a total of 12 times.
"In my own mind, I felt that Mr. Wicks was on a mission, and he was looking to take a few people down with him," Gennaro told jurors.
The homicide detective, Dean Raetz, recalled arriving at the courthouse shortly after the shooting and finding a "pretty chaotic scene."
During the police investigation, he learned that Wicks had set fire to his apartment at 571 N. 30th Street about three hours before the shooting. Raetz said Wicks then purchased a bus ticket at 5:45 a.m., but investigators do not know what he did between that time and the time of the shooting.
Authorities believe Wicks reached the downtown area by bus that morning.
Raetz said Wicks fired his shotgun a total of five times, including three blasts inside the courthouse lobby. All of the officers who fired back had handguns.
Although four court security officers were stationed inside the entrance, Raetz said, Sherman was the only one who fired at Wicks from inside the building. The detective said Sherman fired four more rounds outside the courthouse.
Sherman testified that everything Wicks did during the incident "was very mechanical, very methodical."
Deputy U.S. Marshal Richard "Joe" Gardner, 48, testified that he was working on the second floor of the courthouse and had just begun checking his e-mails when he heard the first shotgun blast.
He went down a stairway, exited through a door on the west side of the building and immediately encountered Wicks.
"I fired four rounds at Mr. Wicks as he fled from one cover to the next," Gardner said.
The witness testified that shotgun pellets struck him in the torso, arm, hand and head but missed his vital organs. He said he later underwent surgery.
"I still have four of the pellets inside me," Gardner said.
Authorities believe Wicks held a grudge against the government. He recently lost a federal lawsuit in which he sought to reinstate some disability benefits that were cut when he moved to Nevada from California.
Dr. Alane Olson, the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Wicks' body, said the man had no alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of his death.
Evidence presented at the inquest revealed that Deputy U.S. Marshal David Diliberti fired 26 rounds during the gunbattle with Wicks, court security officer Michael Gerrity III fired 17 rounds, court security officer Leonard Kaufman fired eight rounds, and detention enforcement officer Justin Ford fired nine rounds.
Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at email@example.com or 702-384-8710.