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.
“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.
Courthouse employees will attend a short service on the lawn Thursday morning at 10 a.m. to observe the shooting anniversary.