Courthouse Shooting Remembered One Year Later
Exactly one year ago this week a gunman opened fire at the Crawford County Courthouse in Van Buren. Police say James Palmer went to the courthouse looking for Judge Gary Cottrell. He shot one woman in the leg and injured others before being killed.
Judge Cottrell focused on giving thanks to those that were in the courthouse that day at a short ceremony held Thursday.
“I’ve not been given an opportunity and I’ve really wanted it, but I’m taking time to thank God for protecting this courthouse,” Judge Cottrell said.
Cottrell also thanked law enforcement officers for taking action so quickly that day.
Judge John Hall agreed, saying that officers were able to prevent Palmer from hurting others.
“We thought it would be good to remember how fortunate we are to all be here today after that incident that happened a year ago today,” Judge Hall said.
Now, the focus is on moving forward, and preventing anything like this from happening again, Sheriff Ron Brown said following the ceremony.
“It’s something that I wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through,” said Tausha Treadway, a courthouse employee. “For a long time it took away my security.”
Treadway saw Palmer coming down the hall and ran. “I got to the point where please God if he shoots me don’t let it hurt too bad because I really felt like I was going to get shot,” she said.
Eyewitnesses watched as Palmer pumped a patrol car full of bullets. The officer inside the car suffered minor injuries.
“There was a divine intervention that day,” said Lt. Stephen Staggs, with the Van Buren Police Department. “Been on the force 25 years and that was the first time I had to fire at somebody.”
A lot of things have changed at the courthouse over the past year, including security.
Sheriff Ron Brown stationed a deputy at the entrance and workers now wear ID badges.
“I would not come back without the security we have now. I would refuse,” said Treadway.
Employees do not talk about the shooting as often now.
“You have to think about the positive and keep going,” said Teresa Armer, a courthouse employee.
“It’s closure, so I think hopefully we can you know say that we survived it and moved on,” said Treadway.