Court shooter's attorney came to victims' aid

Daniel Schlienz allegedly shot at least three people after being convicted on Dec. 15, 2011. WCCO

GRAND MARAIS, Minn. - In the moments after authorities say a man just convicted in a criminal trial opened fire at a small northern Minnesota courthouse, it was his defense attorney who rushed to the aid of two shooting victims.

Authorities have identified Daniel Schlienz, 42, as the man who shot the prosecutor who handled his case and another man.

In an interview with the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, John Lillie III described a chaotic scene Thursday just minutes after his client, Schlienz, was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. Lillie said he was speaking to Schlienz's mother when he heard a shot ring out inside the Cook County courthouse.

Defendant in sexual misconduct trial allegedly open fires in court, injures prosecutor and 2 others
Prosecutor, 2 others shot at Minn. courthouse

Lillie said he followed a man's pleas for help and found Gregory Thompson, of Grand Marais, wounded. He dragged Thompson outside, then re-entered the courthouse to warn workers. Lillie said he heard two more shots on the second floor and ran up to find Tim Scannell, the county prosecutor, bleeding from three gunshot wounds.

"I hear screaming, `I've been shot! I need an ambulance!' Just screaming and screaming," Lillie told the newspaper. "The county attorney has crawled 10 feet to the top of the stairwell and can't move. He's been shot in the leg and the stomach."

Lillie said he wrapped Scannell's belt around his leg to stanch the bleeding, while others wrestled with Schlienz.

Scannell was in fair condition Friday, and Thompson was in good condition. According to CBS station WCCO in Minnesotta, Wisc., Scannell was undergoing surgery to remove the bullets, but was stable. At least one other person was injured in the attack, but authorities did not disclose the nature of their injuries. A third person was treated and released.

"He's got no violent history whatsoever, no violent past," Lillie said to WCCO.  "He was worried about going to jail and I imagine he's going to jail for a long time now." He also added that he had seen his other clients more agitated over a guilty verdict than Schlienz had seemed to be.

Schlienz was taken into custody, and authorities planned a midday Friday news conference to give more details about their investigation.

Online state court records listed several cases involving Daniel Schlienz in the past two decades, but most were minor traffic cases. More serious charges included fleeing a peace officer and the sexual conduct case, which was first filed in 2006.

Schlienz had made a plea agreement to serve no more than four months in the case, but was sentenced to a year in jail while he underwent sex offender treatment. Schlienz appealed and the state Court of Appeals sided with him, saying he should have been allowed to withdraw his plea once the district court disregarded the plea agreement.

Schlienz's father, Gary Schlienz, told the Duluth News Tribune that his son was down and out and "hated the prosecuting attorney that did this."

"I don't want to make excuses for him, but they prosecuted him pretty bad," the elder Schlienz said. "He had no job, no money, nothing."

The county's two-story courthouse, which has one courtroom, has no metal detectors and visitors aren't searched when they enter the building, Cook County Commissioner Fritz Sobanja said.

Grand Marais, home to about 1,300 residents, is about 110 miles northeast of Duluth and sits along the shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota's far northeastern tip.

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