LARGO — State prosecutors concluded that bailiffs were justified in killing a gunman who opened fire last week in the lobby of the County Courthouse.
But a mystery remains: What prompted Glen Powell's unprovoked attack?
Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe ruled the May 7 shooting by bailiffs B.J. Lyons and Marvin Glover "justifiable homicide." He also praised them for preventing "what could have been a tragic incident of immeasurable proportions for the patrons and employees of the St. Petersburg courthouse."
The bailiffs spoke publicly about the incident for the first time Thursday. The Sheriff's Office also released grainy security footage of the shootout.
Lyons, 58, remembers pulling out his gun and firing as soon as Powell reached for his handgun. Powell struck Lyons once, but the bullet bounced off a microphone on Lyons' shoulder.
"There was a look that was kind of undescribable," Lyons said of Powell, 30. "It's the first life I have taken. … I think about it every day."
Glover, 57, said he was immediately suspicious of Powell, who refused to remove his backpack. Glover opened fire as Powell exchanged gunfire with Lyons.
Powell fired two shots. The deputies fired 11, hitting Powell six times. It was over in 12 seconds.
It is unclear who fired first, McCabe's investigation says. Lyons recalls firing first, but a witness said Powell fired first.
"We were the first line of defense," Glover said. "If he had gotten past us, there's no telling how many lives he could have taken."
Besides his gun, Powell had 79 rounds of ammunition, a gas mask with a pair of prescription eyeglasses attached inside and a large curved khukuri knife.
Glover and Lyons, who are Pinellas sheriff's deputies, have returned to their jobs as bailiffs at the courthouse at 545 First Ave. N.
Powell's friends and family have said he was going through a divorce and visiting antigovernment Web sites before the shooting. He was an Eagle Scout and former Mormon missionary who left the Air Force in 2006 as his marriage disintegrated. An Air Force friend said Powell was often depressed.
Powell's family could not be reached for comment.
McCabe's investigation said Powell and his mother visited a lawyer the day of the shooting. His response to a divorce petition his wife filed was due that day.
When they left the lawyer's office, Powell's mother, Virginia, 66, suggested going straight to the courthouse. But Powell told her she couldn't go with him.
When she asked why, Powell told her she would find out later. She asked if he was going to do something stupid.
Powell answered that he wasn't going to do anything and told her not to worry about it.
Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8472.