Once again, Americans Against the Tea Party attended a press conference to receive updates on the shooting committed by Thomas Piccard targeting the Federal Building.
55-year-old former police officer Piccard, who lived in Bridgeport Ohio, was taken down by a heroic court security officer and a Wheeling police officer. He fired, according to Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger, 20 shots into the Wheeling, WV Federal Building at 2:43 p.m. on October 9. Two security guards at the Federal Building received minor injuries from broken glass, according to U.S. Marshal Gary Gaskins.
Much of the downtown area surrounding the Federal Building was closed off, and Bridgeport residents that lived near Piccard were evacuated to Bridgeport High School while his home was searched. Schools were locked down, and a bomb squad was also called in as a precautionary measure.
It is confirmed that Piccard was using an assault rifle and a handgun–the assault rifle being used to fire more than 20 shots at the Federal Building. District Attorney Ihlenfeld stated that a couple of his office’s windows were hit. While there were questions if Ihlenfeld, himself, was being targeted by the former officer, Ihlenfeld said that there was no reason he could think of that would give Piccard cause to target him– A motive is not yet known.
The Shutdown Factor
The Shutdown does play a role in the incident. Whether or not we learn more of this former officer’s motive and whether he was targeting a Federal building specifically, or simply feeling the pain of a shutdown,District Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld’s office was certainly feeling the hurt resulting from our House’s inability to pass a clean C/R. Ihlenfeld says that 40% of his staff was furloughed because of the Tea Party’s act of terrorism. There were security measures in place meant to deal with this sort of incident, but these emergency procedures did not work as expected. It could have been a lot worse, if not for the heroism displayed by security and responding officers.
Questions of Mental Health/Drug Abuse
Sources close to Piccard suggested he may have struggled with drugs, and did have a somewhat checkered past.
Could it be Post-traumatic Stress Disorder? Someone close to the deceased claims Tom Piccard was a responding officer in March of 1997, when Mark Storm checked himself out of Hillcrest (a mental health facility) and returned home–shooting five of his family members–finally turning the gun on himself. Ihlenfeld was unable to confirm, nor deny the claim.
A Wheeling resident who knew Piccard, speaking to me on condition of anonymity, claimed Piccard was ex-military, and had an expansive history of anger management and other mental health issues. He said that Piccard had become upset with “Obama’s decision to not pay death benefits to families of military personnel,” a Congressional oversight with which President Obama was not pleased, and that sent him over the edge. He claims Piccard was an “expert marksman,” and speculates that he did not intend to harm anyone; he calls it “suicide by cop.” Time will tell whether this is true or not.
Not much is known of Tom Piccard’s personnel file, as authorities were unable to comment on that, but a law enforcement source confirmed to the Wheeling Intelligencer that, scrawled on Piccard’s Trailer was a “variation of the Latin phrase, “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” Ihlenfeld was also able to confirm that Piccard was not under investigation by his office.