Phoenix Man Charged After Officer Shot Near Federal Courthouse

Ex-wife says he's mentally ill
September 17, 2020 Updated: September 17, 2020

A man has been arrested and charged in relation to the drive-by shooting of a federal court security officer near a federal court house in Phoenix, Arizona, the FBI announced on Wednesday.

“James Lee Carr, 68, was charged in a criminal complaint for assault on a federal officer, for allegedly shooting a court security officer outside of the U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix on [Sept. 15],” the FBI announced.

Carr was charged with two federal counts of assaulting a federal officer using a deadly or dangerous weapon and discharging a firearm “in furtherance of a crime of violence.”

According to the criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court, Carr drove by the Sandra Day O’Connor federal courthouse around 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 15 and yelled, “Hey,” at the officer who was inspecting a UPS truck heading into the courthouse. The complaint then alleges Carr shot at the officer three times, hitting the officer’s protective vest at least once on the right side of the chest area.

The officer returned fire, shooting eight times at the silver Cadillac sedan that Carr was allegedly driving, a photo of which was released promptly after the incident by the Phoenix Police Department. The suspect shooter, described as “a black male wearing a full-brimmed hat,” subsequently fled the scene in the car.

Federal Courthouse Shooting Phoenix
Police cars close off a street outside the Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sept. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

James Carr then told his brother, Lonnie Carr, that he had shot at a security guard, according to an account provided by Lonnie. Lonnie then informed James Carr’s ex-wife, Donna Gonzalez, and son, Buford Carr, of what Carr had said, including that he wanted to die because he had shot the security guard, the criminal complaint said.

“According to Buford, James told Buford he snapped and shot a security guard at 7th Avenue and Washington because the security guard was harassing him. Buford indicated that James had mental health issues,” the complaint read.

Carr’s son and Gonzales said they found him in Verde park, dressed in a suit and fedora, with a revolver and rifle nearby. They took the weapons away from him and called 911.

“After James was taken into custody, a law enforcement officer was testing James’ left hand for potential gunshot residue when James stated, ‘That’s not the hand I shot with,'” the criminal complaint stated.

Donna Gonzalez said that Carr has a long history of mental illness.

“There’s no explanation for it. He’s sick,” she told The Associated Press. “Hopefully, he’s getting the help he needs.” She added that her ex-husband will most likely need a court-appointed attorney.

The criminal complaint noted that a neighbor who lives in the apartment above Carr told law enforcement that Carr is an “alcoholic, smokes marijuana, and has mental health issues.”

Colleen Grayman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service in Phoenix, said the security officer was released from the hospital Tuesday and was at home recovering.

The officer’s name hasn’t been released but Grayman said the officer is a retired Michigan state trooper who served for more than 25 years.

Carr was not injured.

Following the courthouse shooting and the ambush of the two Los Angeles County deputies, Phoenix police said it will have officers conduct their patrols in pairs for greater safety.

The deputies in Compton, a city in south Los Angeles County, California, were sitting in their parked vehicle when a man walked up and opened fired. The incident occurred on Sept. 12. They were shot in the head and had multiple critical gunshot wounds.

The deputies, a 24-year-old male deputy and a 31-year-old female, are expected to recover. The suspect shooter, who was caught on camera, has yet to be arrested and no motive has been established.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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