Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper answers questions
following the incident at the Forsyth County Courthouse.
Dennis Marx had been battling local law enforcement in
court for three years before he went over the edge, authorities
say, filling his rented SUV with explosives and ammunition to
carry out an assault on the Forsyth County courthouse in
Marx, 48, died in a hail of bullets after wounding Forsyth
County Sheriff's Deputy Daniel Rush, who officials say may
have helped avert a slaughter.
"It would be a guess to think how many lives (the deputy)
saved," Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper said. "Mr. Marx's
intention was to get inside that front door and to take
Marx had filed a lawsuit against Piper's agency, saying that
his life savings and weapons had been confiscated. He hoped
to spare "unsuspecting citizens" the "lies and brutality that
he has personally survived to date," Marx wrote in court
He was expected at a court hearing on the criminal charges on
Friday (local time).
Instead, deputies say, Marx, wearing a bulletproof vest and a
gas mask and armed with multiple explosives and lots of
ammunition, drove his SUV up to the courthouse about 10:30am.
He tossed out homemade smoke grenades, pepper spray grenades
and spike strips in an effort to keep law enforcement
personnel from stopping his approach to the courthouse. He
pulled up firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, officials
Rush, a deputy working at the courthouse, confronted Marx,
who officials say shot the officer in the shin through the
windshield of his vehicle. Witnesses said Marx jumped from
the SUV and started shooting his rifle. Officers returned
fire, killing Marx.
"It was very close to a major catastrophe," Piper said.
Rush was taken to North Fulton Hospital, where he had surgery
for a broken leg.
Officials hadn't removed Marx from where he fell as of Friday
evening because they hadn't removed all the explosives he had
Forsyth County Chief Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Bagley said
Marx was to have been in court last Monday to go on trial on
a charge of possession of marijuana with intent to
distribute. He never showed up but his attorney, Manny Arora,
said Marx intended to plead guilty, so the case was reset for
When deputies alerted the judge of Friday's shooting, he was
hustled from the bench and escorted down the stairs and out
of the building. He said his first thoughts were of the
shootings at the Fulton County Courthouse in 2005, when
then-rape suspect Brian Nichols shot and killed Judge Rowland
Barnes, a court reporter and a deputy.
Officials say Marx had long been planning the attack. Besides
the grenades and homemade explosives, he had water, zip ties
and several magazines of ammunition.
Piper said he didn't know Marx's motive, but "he came to stay
a while. We don't know who he was coming to the courthouse
for. I have to assume he was there to occupy the building."
He said investigators believed Marx's "intent was to take
Piper said several more explosives were found at Marx's home.
Law enforcement described Marx as a "sovereign citizen," part
of an anti-government group that has been tied to violent
attacks on law enforcement around the country.
He was arrested in 2011 on charges of possession of marijuana
with the intent to distribute and possessing a firearm during
the commission of a felony.