Merced County Court Employees Return to Work

April 30, 2008 3:35:27 PM PDT
Court employees headed back to work in Merced County Tuesday morning just one day after deputies shot and killed a man who investigators say ran into a courtroom carrying two large knives.Two armed sheriff's deputies joined the unarmed court security staff members at the front entrance today. And all but one of the court employees who witnessed the attack came back to work this morning although many are still shaken by what they saw.

The bullet holes in the doors of courtroom number two paint a chilling picture of Monday's deadly shooting.

Mark Pazin, Merced Co. Sheriff: "One of the bullets did ricochet off the concrete floor we theorize and struck the door and then went into the outside set of doors."

Sheriff Mark Pazin says deputies fired several shots at 40 year old Robert Eaton after he ran past court security and into this courtroom at the end of the hall. Clean-up crews spent the morning removing blood stained carpet and trying to erase evidence of the intrusion. But the scene is still very clear in the minds of many court employees, who were offered counseling.

Gloria Ontiveros Moore, Court Interpreter: "You know that you are always at the risk of something like that happening because of the kind of people we deal with here every day. But we are here, ready to keep working."

Judge Brian McCabe, seen here during a 2007 trial, also returned to work, but heard his cases in a different department. McCabe was sitting at the head of the courtroom when deputies say Eaton rushed toward him. But that may not have been the first time McCabe saw the 40 year old, who has a criminal background and a history of mental illness.

Kirihara, Presiding Judge: "He indicated that he had some recollection of dealing with this individual before. And I believe it may have been arising from the incident that happened last year when the same individual ran his car into the front of the court."

Eaton's family members, who did not want to speak on camera, say they're now grieving the loss of a loved one and trying to cope with a terrible situation.

Just moments ago, we spoke with Chief Deputy District Attorney Harold Nutt who was actually in the hallway as Eaton ran past security into the courtroom. Harold Nutt: "I followed him into drew on him."

Court administrators say they've asked the state to do an independent review of security here. And Sheriff Pazin has said he'll seek additional funding to permanently put armed deputies at the front door.


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