Security Guard Shot At Illinois State Capitol; Authorities Search For Shooter


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- An unarmed security guard was shot to death just inside a state Capitol entrance Monday afternoon, and authorities were searching for the shooter, who escaped in a car.

The shooter entered the north entrance and shot the security guard at about 1:45 p.m., said Randy Nehrt, a spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office, which has law enforcement jurisdiction over the building.

The attack was fast, with the gunman immediately firing one shot that hit the guard in the chest and then getting out, putting a gun in the trunk of a car and driving away, said Col. Larry Schmidt, chief deputy director of the Secretary of State Police. He said the guard died in a hospital operating room.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich was not in the Capitol at the time, and the Legislature is not in session.

At least three or four people saw the shooter, Schmidt said. Most of the witnesses were outside, and officials were also reviewing footage from surveillance cameras in the area, he said.

Springfield police said they also were investigating another shooting about an hour earlier at a military surplus store about 2 miles from the Capitol involving a man who matched the description of the Capitol shooter.

The Capitol entrance where the man was shot has no metal detectors, and its security guards are not armed.

Leslie Root, who works for state Sen. Chris Lauzen on the first floor near the location of the shooting, said she and her colleagues heard the gunshot.

"It just sounded like a bomb went off. Then someone immediately yelled, 'Someone's been shot,"' Root said.

She said the staff rushed inside the office and locked the door.

An announcement over the intercom ordered everyone to stay in their offices, and the building was locked down for about an hour.

Outside, police cars and ambulances surrounded the building, and officers roped off the entrance. After the lockdown was lifted, armed officers were in the halls and everyone entering the building was required to sign in, rather than the usual procedure of simply showing a badge.

Springfield Deputy Police Chief Jim Burton said someone matching the description of the Capitol shooter and carrying a 12-gauge shotgun had gone into a nearby military surplus store, Birds and Brooks, at about 12:25 p.m. and demanded a high-powered rifle.

The man, described as white and about 20 years old, fled after the owner recognized him as someone who had stolen a shotgun on Sept. 14, locked himself in his office and began shooting through the door, Burton said.

A man with the same description went to the Capitol a little over an hour later and shot a security guard, Burton said. He said Springfield Police are investigating the two shootings as possibly connected.

Police said they were searching for a silver or gray two-door car.

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Associated Press reporters Christopher Wills in Springfield and Nicole Ziegler Dizon in Chicago contributed to this report.

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