A man believed to be associated with an anti-government group attempted to attack a courthouse in north Georgia Friday morning, but was thwarted by a sheriff's deputy, who was shot in the incident.
Authorities have searched the home of the suspect, Dennis Marx, and found pipe bombs and other incendiary devices.
The deputy was shot outside the courthouse at the Forsyth County Administration Building in Cumming on Friday morning. Cumming is located approximately 40 miles north of Atlanta.
Sheriff Duane Piper said that Marx drove up armed with an assault rifle, bullet proof vest, smoke grenades and a gas mask. He threw out stop sticks at the entrance so other cars could not drive up, Piper said. A deputy saw the man and came out to confront him and was shot in the leg through the windshield of the car.
Piper said Marx's home is "a bomb." Evidence shows he has not been living there for more than a week and has been staying at a hotel. He said it will take hours to clear the courthouse and the home.
The deputy, a 25-year veteran of the department, is expected to recover, Piper said. He was taken to a local area hospital about 20 miles north of Atlanta. He is being hailed as a hero, potentially saving dozens of lives by thwarting a hostage situation.
The SWAT team, which was on its way to a separate incident, arrived at the courthouse within 37 seconds.
Piper said Marx is dead.
The courthouse square was closed off because police were investigating the threat of possible explosives at the courthouse, law enforcement sources told Channel 2 Action News.
The gunman's attorney told Channel 2 she was representing him until Thursday, when she withdrew because he was unsatisfied with her negotiating skills. He was due in court on Friday for marijuana and firearms charges. The attorney said the man was a gun buyer and trader.
The attorney said she asked the man to undergo a psychological evaluation, but he refused.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution report, a law enforcement official familiar with the situation said explosives are suspected because Marx is a “sovereign citizen” well-known to local authorities. They are concerned about explosives because sovereign citizens are anti-government and are known to be involved with explosives. Marx also claimed in court documents to be a professionally-trained, certified Glock armorer.
The investigation is ongoing.