Police: Ga. courthouse gunman belonged to anti-government group

CUMMING, Ga. - A man armed with guns, explosives and other supplies shot and wounded a deputy outside a Georgia courthouse and was equipped to take hostages once he got inside, officials said Friday.

The suspect, Dennis Marx, was shot and killed at the scene, said Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper.

Piper said the gunman had driven up to the courthouse and threw out smoke devices and homemade spike strips to prevent officers from reaching him. Both homemade and commercially made explosives were in his car, suggesting he had planned the assault for days, Piper said.

Marx also allegedly had water and other supplies, including zip ties that can be used to bind people's hands. Piper said the wounded deputy prevented others from getting hurt when he encountered Marx, though it was not clear if that deputy killed the suspect.

"When the deputy engaged him outside, it saved lives," Piper said. "The entire situation was solved by that deputy's actions."

The deputy, who has been with the department for 25 years, was shot below his knee and is expected to recover. His name was not released.

Piper said authorities had been aware of Marx for some time.

CBS Atlanta reports Marx had been due to appear in court Friday morning, and was scheduled to begin trial Monday on charges of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. The charge is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, according to the station.

Police described him as a member of the sovereign citizen movement, an anti-government group that the FBI considers a top domestic terrorist threat.

A woman who says she was Marx's attorney up until Thursday, when she withdrew from the case because Marx was unsatisfied with her negotiating skills, told WSB-TV that she had asked Marx to undergo a psychological evaluation, but he refused. She also reportedly said Marx was a gun buyer and trader.

Marx has had numerous run-ins with the law, dating to at least 2011, the Associated Press reported. In August of that year, he was arrested on numerous felony charges, including selling marijuana and weapon possession. That same month, authorities filed papers in an effort to seize weapons and money found after an undercover officer bought drugs from Marx. Court documents show authorities wanted to seize two dozen handguns and rifles, 71 gun magazines and $24,311 in cash.

The seizure case was put on hold while the criminal charges were pending, Richard Grossman, who represented Marx in the seizure case, told the AP.

Marx had filed a federal civil rights complaint against the sheriff's department in 2013, according to court records, AP also reported. The complaint accused the sheriff's department of using excessive force and illegal searches. Marx said in the complaint that officers hit him when he was standing with his hands up, used chemical agents to make him believe an explosion or fire had occurred and used an extra set of handcuffs that cut off circulation to his hands.

The courthouse and nearby businesses were evacuated as the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigated the shooting that took place about 1030 a.m. Friday

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