Retiree opens fire in Las Vegas courthouse

LAS VEGAS — A Las Vegas retiree, disgruntled over cuts in his Social Security benefits, opened fire Monday morning in the lobby of the federal courthouse in downtown Las Vegas, killing a court security officer and wounding a deputy U.S. marshal, authorities said.

The gunman, identified as Johnny Lee Wicks, 66, was shot in the head and died on the scene, according to law enforcement sources. The deputy marshal was being treated at a local hospital.

The U.S. Marshals Service said the victims included a 48-year-old deputy U.S. marshal who was hospitalized and a 65-year-old court security officer who died.

The dead guard was Stanley Cooper, a retired Las Vegas police officer employed by Akal Security, said Jeff Carter, spokesman for the Marshals Service in Washington.

Wicks was suing the U.S. government because his Social Security benefits were apparently denied or reduced, a law enforcement official said. He was living in a Las Vegas-area retirement home.

A video posted on YouTube captured the sound of 50-plus shots snapping like firecrackers.

"The first shot that I heard was a shotgun blast. I knew it wasn't fireworks," said Ray Freres, 59, a sandwich-shop manager.

The shootout began about 8 a.m. Pacific at the Lloyd D. George Federal District Courthouse, just south of the aging casinos on Las Vegas' Fremont Street.

The gunman, dressed in black and with a shotgun hidden beneath his jacket, charged into the entryway. Before reaching two metal detectors, he opened fire, said Joseph Dickey, a FBI special agent.

Seven officers shot back, he said, and the gunman darted out of the courthouse. They chased him, and the gunman was killed across the street, near the historic Fifth Street School, a white stucco office building.