WHEELING -- A man armed with what a federal marshal described as an AK-47 assault rifle fired up to two-dozen rounds at the federal courthouse in Wheeling on Wednesday until police returned fire and killed him, the West Virginia State Police said.
Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger identified the gunman as Thomas J. Piccard, 55, of Bridgeport, Ohio. He was a retired Wheeling police officer.
Three on-duty security officers were injured by flying debris during the onslaught, Schwertfeger told a news conference.
State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said officers arrived and shot the suspect, killing him. Witnesses reported hearing dozens of gunshots, he said.
U.S. Marshal Patrick Sedoti said the man was armed with an AK-47 and also was carrying a Glock pistol.
Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie said police who briefed him earlier Wednesday told him Piccard was a 20-year-plus veteran of the force who retired 13 years ago.
Investigators were seeking a search warrant for Piccard's home in hopes of determining a motive and if he acted alone, said Chief Deputy Mike Claxton of the Marshals Service in northern West Virginia.
Asked if the gunman had any beef with the U.S. government, Claxton said, "We're really digging hard at this point to find out."
Claxton said Piccard began firing from a parking lot across from the federal building. "He was observed in the parking lot very quickly after the first shots were fired," he said.
Courthouse security and local police shot at Piccard. Claxton did not know if there was an exchange of gunfire.
Officials said it was too early to tell whether Piccard was targeting anyone in the building or what his motive may have been.
"That's still trying to be determined," said Bob Johnson, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Pittsburgh office.