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Shattered glass, bullet holes mark schoolhouse

A stray bullet shattered a glass partition of Randy Lavigne’s office at the Historic Fifth Street School as law enforcement gunned down Monday’s federal courthouse shooter.

The bullet went through a conference room window and hit the side of her office before ricocheting and embedding itself in the wall about 6 feet up. She was on her way to work at the time of the shooting around 8 a.m.

Had she been sitting in her chair, the bullet "would have gone over my head," said Lavigne, executive director for the state and local chapters of the American Institute of Architects. The city building holds offices for local arts and architectural organizations.

"We’re glad everybody is OK," Lavigne said. "(The courthouse’s) security system works, but when something like this goes into the streets and public space, nothing can be done."

According to authorities, 81 shots were fired at gunman Johnny Lee Wicks. He was struck by bullets in the stomach and in the head. On Tuesday, broken glass and bullet-ridden walls were all that remained from the shooting.

Eleven window panes will be repaired or replaced, city officials said. They inspected the building Tuesday afternoon for damage, the heaviest of which occurred near UNLV’s Downtown Design Studio, where the shooter died.

Asked about the procedure for engaging an armed threat in a public place, David Turk, U.S. Marshal spokesman, responded that in general marshals go through a "very rigorous" training academy program for about 18 weeks.

They train with weapons, work through decision-making exercises and do classroom work, but he wouldn’t go into specifics about the weapons used or the retesting period.

"I believe our employees are professionals and conduct themselves as professionals in protecting courthouse facilities," Turk said.

Marshals also offer safety inspections for federal facilities if asked, however Turk said he could not go into detail about those inspections either.

Jace Radke, city spokesman, said the city has "no plans to alter its security procedures at this time."

An orange chalk circle on the ground facing Las Vegas Boulevard marks where the shooter took his last breath in front of the school after killing a security guard and wounding a deputy marshal across the street at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse.

The bullet holes in the building range in size, damage and location. Some splintered the bottoms of doors, some cracked window panes and still others fractured office windows inside — near desks and computers where employees sit.

The bullet holes span about 116 feet, from the northernmost to southernmost.

Wicks was a moving target after he fled the courthouse and at one point spun around and fired two shots at officers.

The building houses a music school, which school officials say is in between semesters, so no students were present during the shooting.

The Nevada School of the Arts suite suffered no damage.

The historic building was a grammar school in the mid-1930s. In 2008, the facility was reopened as a community-oriented location for arts and architectural organizations.

Louis Leos, a building custodian, said he was cleaning an outside area of the school near Clark Avenue when he heard shots fired.

"After the first couple of bam-bams it kept going," he said. "I didn’t know which way the bullets were flying. Then it was quiet, and then it started back up again."

Leos said he tried to peek around the corner of the building and saw police officers drawing their weapons and a police cruiser screech to a halt.

Police rounded up people around the school, including Leos, who was placed in a meeting room for safety before being bused to Las Vegas High School for questioning.

Roy Evensen, a 61-year-old homeless man who was outside at the time of the shooting, said he saw the gunman flee down the courthouse stairs and heard a barrage of rapid gunfire before everything went silent.

Evensen said the shooter ran toward him before veering south. He was carrying "a heavy shotgun" and was "slouched forward" from the weight of the weapon as he tried to escape.

"I heard, ‘Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!" Evensen said. "Then it stopped, and I figured he was down."

Contact Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0279.

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