Warm Day At Courthouse Turns Chaotic In Shootout


Salon Staff
March 8, 2012 1:18PM (UTC)

TULSA (AP) — With the temperature pushing 70, the young, barefoot man didn't seem out of place on a downtown plaza — until he pulled out a handgun and began shooting indiscriminately into the air.

People in the plaza between the Tulsa County Courthouse and the library turned from scared to curious, at first scurrying to safety and then peering out windows to see what would happen next. After a burst of gunfire, the young man lay wounded, bleeding from his upper body onto the patchwork of concrete tiles. A sheriff's deputy and a bystander suffered nonlife-threatening injuries.

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"I'm thinking this is not the downtown I remember working in," said John Fancher, a communications specialist at the regional library who photographed the incident. "I start snapping off some shots, and he sits down, just casually sits down, gun in his hand and three sheriff's come out of the courthouse and I can't hear what they're saying."

Wednesday was the kind of day in Tulsa that makes you forget it is winter. While overcast, the high temperatures and south wind made it a glorious day to be outside until, police say, 23-year-old Andrew Joseph Dennehy sauntered into the plaza and began firing.

Deputies from the Tulsa County Courthouse, which is on the plaza with the library, responded and opened fire when Dennehy allegedly turned his weapon toward them.

"That's when (the deputies) did what they had to do," Fancher said in an interview with The Associated Press. Fancher shared his photographs with the AP and other media outlets.

It wasn't immediately clear who fired first, or whose shot wounded the bystander.

Authorities said Dennehy was being treated at a hospital, but his condition wasn't immediately available. Police spokesman Leland Ashley said Dennehy was considered to be in police custody but hadn't been formally charged.

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Tulsa County sheriff's Sgt. Shannon Clark said the deputy who was wounded was shot in both hands and both arms and was in surgery Wednesday evening. He didn't know the extent of the injuries to the deputy, whom the department didn't identify.

Emergency Medical Services Authority Capt. Chris Stevens said one man was taken to a hospital in critical condition and that two other people were hospitalized, one in serious and one in fair condition. A woman, who was not hit by gunfire, was "shaken up" and treated at the scene.

Glyn Roe, 49, a heating and air conditioning worker from Tulsa who was visiting the library Wednesday, said he saw all the events unfold.

"Everybody was running," Roe said. "I was watching it to make sure he wasn't coming into the library, or I would have started running, too."

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Virginia Jones, owner of Downtown Tulsa Tag Agency, where people can update their car licenses, said she and her son were leaving to pick up another child from school when they heard gunfire.

Police officers crouched behind giant planters that dot the plaza when more gunfire erupted.

"It wasn't long after that that police just started coming from everywhere," she said.

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Library Chief Executive Officer Gary Shaffer said he was returning from lunch when he saw emergency vehicles. A man who appeared to have been shot in the leg was wheeled out of the library by paramedics.

Shaffer said it was unclear if the man, who he said was conscious, ran into the library after getting shot or if he was shot in the library. There was broken glass in the library, apparently shattered by a bullet.

Tulsa County District Court Judges Jefferson Sellers and Rebecca Nightingale told the Tulsa World that they were in courtrooms on the seventh floor when they saw the gunfire exchange. Nightingale said the gunman fired at least two shots at the deputies, and Sellers said the deputies fired multiple rounds back at him after ordering him to drop the weapon.

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Salon Staff

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