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Failed Lawsuit Possible Motive in Vegas Attack

Failed Lawsuit Possible Motive in Vegas Attack

The AP via YellowBrix

January 05, 2010

LAS VEGAS – A gunman who opened fire at a federal building Monday, killing a court security guard and wounding a U.S. marshal before being shot to death, was upset over losing a lawsuit over his Social Security benefits, law enforcement officials said.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case, said 66-year-old Johnny Lee Wicks opened fire with a shotgun at a security checkpoint, touching off a gun battle with deputy U.S. marshals.

Although the investigation is continuing, the officials said evidence points to Wick’s anger over his benefits case as the motive for the shooting.

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Court records show Wicks sued the Social Security Administration in 2008, alleging that he was the victim of racial discrimination because his benefits were reduced when he moved from California to Nevada in January of that year. The case was thrown out and formally closed Sept. 9.

Gunfire erupted at the courthouse moments after 8 a.m. Monday, the start of the workweek, and lasted several minutes.

A passerby said he counted at least 40 shots.

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

Las Vegas police did not immediately provide information about Cooper. Carter said he was a police officer for 26 years and became a federal court security officer in Las Vegas in 1994.

Authorities did not immediately release the name of the wounded marshal.

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