Video Captures Moments Before Courthouse Shooting

May 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Merced County sheriff's department Thursday released surveillance video of the moments leading up to a deadly courthouse shooting.Investigators say the video shows Robert Eaton running into a courtroom with knives moments before he was shot and killed by deputies.

Sheriff Mark Pazin says his deputies did everything right when Robert Eaton stormed into this courthouse. But he says in the past, training has focused on intruders with guns, and now that's going to change.

This courthouse surveillance video captures the chaos as Eaton ran down a long corridor into courtroom number two.

Officer Shane Ferreira, California Highway Patrol, says "People were just yelling and screaming. I heard people yelling 'knives!" I was yelling back for people to get down, for people to get out of the way. "

Officer Ferriera was near the front entrance when someone spotted these two large knives in Eaton's hands moments after he walked through the front door and past security. "One of the attendants told me to stop this man, I turned and I saw Mr. Eaton begin to run around the corner with knives in his hand," recalls Officer Ferriera.

The video shows Officer Ferriera chasing Eaton down the hallway then clearing the area as the 40 year old heads into the courtroom. It also captures Chief Deputy District Attorney Harold Nutt running in after him.

"I followed him in and yelled out that he had a knife, he had a knife, and as I did that, officers in the courtroom drew on him," says Nutt.

Sheriff Pazin says three deputies fired a total of nine shots. Autopsy results show eight of them hit Eaton's torso area, while one hit his leg and ricocheted into the courtroom doors.

"Our deputies did exactly what they were trained to do." But Sheriff Pazin says that training in the past has focused primarily on active shooters. And now he wants to broaden the scope. "An individual with knives, with the element of surprise can be just as deadly as someone with a 40 caliber."

Sheriff Pazin said again Thursday that he has always wanted armed deputies to help guard the front entrance along with the unarmed security personnel. And he plans to continue seeking the state funding to make that possible.


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