The three-story gray federal building remained cordoned off Wednesday night, surrounded by a heavy police presence in the city along the Ohio River in the Northern Panhandle. The building houses several courtrooms and related offices, including judges, prosecutors and law enforcement.
U.S. Attorney Bill Ihlenfeld said shots were fired into at least three rooms in his office on the building's second floor. He described hearing gunshots, then panic among staff.
"Members of my staff were crawling on the floor or running from office to office telling people to get away from the windows," he said.
Ihlenfeld said he knew Piccard from 1997 when he started working in the city prosecutor's office until the officer retired in 2000. He said he had no reason to believe his office was targeted, and that Piccard was not under any sort of investigation by federal authorities.
"There was nothing about my relation with him or anything that I observed in dealing with him ... to cause me to think anything like this would happen," he said.
About 40 percent of Ihlenfeld's staff was furloughed because of the federal government shutdown, so many weren't working on Wednesday.
"To be honest, the security plans in place to deal with a situation like this don't work when we don't have everybody there," he said, without elaborating.
David Wohlfeil, owner of the Metropolitan City Grill near the courthouse, said he ran outside after he heard the first round of shots. He heard two more volleys of gunfire then ran back inside.
"I told everyone to get in the basement and then called 911," he said, adding that police arrived while he was on the phone.
Gazette staff writer Travis Crum contributed to this report, as did the AP's John Raby from Charleston, Larry O'Dell and Steve Szkotak from Richmond, Va., and Brock Vergakis from Norfolk, Va.