A gunman exchanged fire with officers outside a North Carolina courthouse on Tuesday before authorities shot and killed him, a sheriff said.
A deputy responding to the scene in the city of Asheville was hurt but expected to survive, said Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller. He indicated that the injury wasn't a gunshot wound but wouldn't elaborate. Miller said no bystanders or courthouse employees were hurt.
Shortly before 10 a.m., a man inside a parked SUV fired shots from a handgun at a law enforcement officer near the courthouse, according to a news release from the Asheville Police Department.
Dozens of deputies and police officers swarmed the area while the courthouse was locked down, and witnesses described hearing several gunshots. Authorities urged people to avoid the area, but were able to say there was no longer a threat after about a half-hour.
Miller said officers returned fire on the suspect who was inside a parked car, killing him. The gunman was later identified as Shane Tilman Kent, 29, of Asheville, according to the police news release. State prison records show that he had been convicted of felony breaking and entering in 2014.
The motive for the shooting wasn't clear, but Miller said: “We believe that it’s random right now."
The deputy was treated at a hospital for an injury to his arm that wasn't life-threatening and released, police said.
Drew Reisinger, 36, the Register of Deeds for Buncombe County, said he was in his office on the same block as the courthouse when he saw a swarm of police officers descend on downtown.
“All of a sudden we see blue lights flashing,” he said by phone. “And I probably could have counted up to 50 cop cars coming in with all the urgency of a dire situation.”
Reisinger said downtown is often busy and that he sometimes sees the lights and hears the sirens of police cars.
“This was different,” he said. “We got a phone call from officials saying ‘Lock down your doors. This isn’t a drill. Bullets are being fired. Stay away from your windows.’”
Reisinger said after a few minutes he looked out the window and heard one gunshot. And then “things started to slow down a little bit.”
“I opened the windows and poked my head out. And at that point we heard a big bang,” he said. "A few minutes later a call came through saying the shooter was down,” Reisinger said.
Drew reported from Durham, North Carolina. Finley reported from Norfolk, Virginia.