The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 8, 2010

Deputies nab courthouse gunman in Lewisburg

By Francis Scarcella

LEWISBURG — The Union County Courthouse was locked down Wednesday morning while deputies arrested a man armed with a handgun who was making threatening comments in the parking lot.

The man, whom officials would not identify, told deputies at 9:30 that he was armed and planned to rob a bank, Sheriff Ernie Ritter said. He was also muttering insults at the officers, the sheriff said.

“This could have been a very deadly situation,” said Ritter, adding, “We have a set plan for cases like this, and everything we did went as planned.”

“We made sure the area around the situation was safe, and then we began to move in,” Ritter said. “We assisted the man to the ground without incident and found a .45 Springfield Armory handgun with multiple magazines on him.”

Union County District Attorney D. Peter Johnson said he was told immediately about the man.

“This was a serious and potentially a dangerous situation we dealt with,” Johnson said. “It was handled well by everyone involved.”

Ritter said a deputy began the lockdown process, which included not letting anyone in or out of the courthouse for 20 to 30 minutes, before apprehending the man.

Disiree Smith, a caseworker in the domestic relations office, praised the sheriff’s department for its quick response.

“We were looking out the window at what was going on, and I want to say that the department did a great job and handled the situation very well,” Smith said.

Ritter said he was unable to disclose the man’s name or why he was there because of the on-going investigation.

“There are pending charges, and at this time I cannot give out the man’s identity,” he said. “The man does have ties to the area, but his license plate was registered in Michigan, and we found California plates and a passport in the vehicle.”

Lewisburg and East Buffalo Township police assisted county officials.

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