CUMMING, Ga. — A man wielding an assault rifle, explosives and supplies to take hostages opened fire outside a Georgia courthouse Friday, wounding a deputy before he was killed in a shootout with officers, authorities said.
Dennis Marx had been due in court Friday morning to plead guilty in a drug case. He arrived at the courthouse wearing body armor in a rented SUV with both homemade and commercially made explosives, two handguns, zip ties, water and other gear. He dropped homemade spike strips and used smoke devices to try to keep officers from reaching him, said Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper.
Authorities were familiar with Marx, who had placed obstacles around his home about 40 miles northeast of Atlanta when officers came to arrest him in the past. Bomb squads carefully checked the home in a hilly, wooded neighborhood, fearing he may have set explosive traps around the property. While explosive devices were found inside the home, they were not set to detonate, Piper said. Marx had left his house several days before the attack, Piper said.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that authorities viewed Marx as a "sovereign citizen" who was part of an antigovernment group that has been tied to violent attacks on law enforcement around the country.
The wounded deputy prevented others from getting hurt when he encountered Marx, Piper said. The sheriff's office said in a news release that Marx tried to run over the deputy, and the deputy then shot at Marx.
"When the deputy engaged him outside, it saved lives," Piper said. "The entire situation was solved by that deputy's actions."
Other deputies heard the gunshots and rushed to help, leading to a gunbattle that lasted about two minutes and involved eight deputies, Piper said. It was not clear which one fired the fatal shot, he said.
The named of the injured deputy was not released. He was expected to make a full recovery.
Marx has had numerous run-ins with the law, dating to at least 2011. In August of that year, he was arrested on numerous felony charges, including selling marijuana and weapon possession.
That same month, authorities filed papers in an effort to seize weapons and money found after an undercover officer bought drugs from Marx. Court documents show authorities wanted to seize two dozen handguns and rifles, 71 gun magazines and $24,311 in cash.
The seizure case was put on hold while the criminal charges were pending, said Richard Grossman, who represented Marx in the seizure case. Another attorney representing Marx had negotiated a "very favorable" plea deal for the man in the criminal case, and Marx had been scheduled to plead guilty on Friday morning. "It seems like he was really afraid and did this irrational act," said Grossman.