Dave Mistich Published

Ex-police officer identified as shooter at federal building in Wheeling


A former Wheeling police officer reportedly fired up to 30 shots into the federal courthouse Wednesday afternoon before he was shot and killed by security officers at the building.

Update: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 10:22 p.m.

Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger identified the gunman in Wednesday afternoon’s shooting as 55-year-old Thomas J. Piccard of Bridgeport, Ohio. He is a retired Wheeling police officer.
At a news conference late Wednesday, Schwertfeger said Piccard was armed with an assault weapon and a handgun.
He also said three on-duty security officers were injured by flying debris during the onslaught.

Update: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 9:02 p.m.

The Associated Press reports Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie said police who briefed him after Wednesday’s courthouse assault told him the man was a 20-year-plus veteran of the force. He said the man retired 13 years ago.
McKenzie said the retired officer’s name was not being released immediately, although various media outlets around the state have identified the shooter as Thomas Picard.

Investigators were seeking a search warrant for Piccard’s home in hopes of determining a motive and if he acted alone, said Chief Deputy Mike Claxton of the Marshals Service in northern West Virginia.

Update: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Glynis Board  dispatched the following information:

A spokesman fron the U.S. Marshals Service reports that the gunman was an ex-Wheeling police officer who was terminated in 2001. The FBI is leading an ongoing investigation in collaboration with state and city police. The spokesman says the gunman shot at least 20 shots at the fed courthouse–and some entered the building. A U.S. Marshal court security officer and a Wheeling police officer returned fire, injuring the gunman who was pronounced dead from those injuries at a local hospital. The spokesman adds that courthouse will resume normal operations tomorrow.

Update: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.

The Wheeling Intelligencer reports that, at a 5:30 news conference, Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said there is no known motive for the shooting as of yet. Wheeling’s paper also confirms through multiple sources that the shooter has been identified as Thomas Piccard.

Update: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 6:20 p.m.

A witness told WV MetroNews the gunman used a rifle, reloading at least once, as he fired at the federal building around 2:45 p.m.

Authorities said the gunman, identified as Thomas Piccard, died at a local hospital. U.S. attorney Bill Ihlenfeld said Piccard was a former Wheeling police officer.

Ihlenfeld was in his office when the shooting occurred.

The Wheeling Intelligencer reports that the shooter may have had other targets in mind.

The Federal Building may not have been the man's only target, as an eyewitness to the shooting said he also may have been targeting the nearby Wheeling YWCA.

Wheeling resident Carla Webb Daniels said she witnessed the shooter fire from the Chase Bank parking lot across Chapline Street from the Federal Building. Daniels said she was in her attorney's office when she heard loud gun shots. When she looked out she saw a white male standing between a silver or gold SUV and a white vehicle in the parking lot pull out a gun and start shooting at the federal building. She then saw the shooter put down the assault rifle and reload before shooting at the YWCA building.

"I was so nervous, I couldn't believe it," Daniels said. "People were scared and were banging on the doors asking to be let in."

This story was originally published on October 9, 2013 at 5:48 p.m.