Judge, deputy wounded in Wash. courthouse attack

A man stabbed a judge and shot a sheriff's deputy with her own weapon in a courthouse struggle Friday, authorities said. A manhunt was under way for the assailant.

The suspect might still have the officer's .45-caliber handgun and was last seen running from the Grays Harbor County Courthouse, said Undersheriff Rick Scott. The motive for the attack in the coastal town of Montesano, about 90 miles southwest of Seattle, wasn't clear.

Judge David Edwards and Deputy Polly Davin were treated and released from a hospital hours after the attack, which prompted a lockdown of the small town of about 4,000 residents. The lockdown on schools was later lifted, but afterschool activities were canceled.

Late Friday night, Scott said officers were close to identifying the assailant.

"We are making some significant headway in identifying the suspect," he said in a statement. "We believe we have some good leads."

As many as 100 officers joined in the manhunt at its peak Friday, Scott said, with the State Patrol and officers from four surrounding counties assisting Grays Harbor County.

Scott said Davin responded to a report of a suspicious person at the courthouse and confronted a man. During a struggle, she was stabbed with either a small knife or scissors, he said. The judge intervened, striking the assailant, who then stabbed him, authorities said.

Davin reached for her gun, but it was wrestled away by the man, who shot twice, striking her in the shoulder before fleeing, Scott said.

"He doesn't know me and I don't know him," Edwards said Friday night from his home, telling KING-TV the attacker was a stranger.

The judge said he was on the third floor of the courthouse when he saw the deputy being attacked on the first floor and ran to help.

"He had a weapon in his hand, a knife or something, and he was stabbing her, and that's what I got stabbed with," Edwards said.

After the shooting, the judge said the attacker turned and looked at him and ran out the door with the deputy's gun.

"I'm OK, she's OK, that's what's important right now," Edwards said.

The attack comes less than three months after Edwards had joined a lawsuit filed over county budget cuts he said were making the courthouse less safe. The courthouse is not equipped with a metal detector and there was no on-site security on Friday, Scott said.

"Our courthouse is one of the few of its size that doesn't have full-time security," he said. "We just had a discussion about courthouse security less than a week ago. The need for that is certainly illustrated by situations like this."

The judge put it even more bluntly, telling KING, "You can't get less security than we have."

There have been a number of dangerous episodes inside the courthouse over the last two years, including a defendant charging at one judge in a courtroom and a man armed with a knife asking directions to the office of a judge, the lawsuit filed in December said.

"Anyone can enter the courthouse carrying weapons," the lawsuit said.

According to budget information from the county, the superior court budget was cut from $733,320 in 2010 to $645,818 for 2012.

Kathie Wilson, who works at a law firm near the courthouse, said her office locked its doors after getting a call from her daughter-in-law, who was locked in a school while picking up her child.

Edwards was appointed to Grays Harbor County Superior Court in 2007 by Gov. Chris Gregoire. He had been a private attorney, and had also served as a prosecutor in the late 1970s.

Davin is a former Daily World reporter who became a sheriff's deputy in 1998.


Associated Press writers Doug Esser and Manuel Valdes in Seattle, Shannon Dininny in Yakima, Wash., and Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.