Deputy shot, suspect dead at Georgia courthouse

Sheriff says man planned assault, hostages at courthouse north of Atlanta

Police surround the Forsyth County courthouse square in Cumming, Ga.
Friday, June 6, 2014 12:03 PM
Last updated 7:57 PM
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CUMMING, Ga. — A man wielding an assault rifle, explosives and supplies to take hostages opened fire outside a Georgia courthouse Friday, wounding a deputy before he was killed in a shootout with officers, authorities said.

Police surround the Forsyth County courthouse square in Cumming, Ga.  JOHN SPINK/ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION VIA GEORGIA NEWSPAPER PARTNERSHIP
Police surround the Forsyth County courthouse square in Cumming, Ga.

Dennis Marx had been due in court Friday morning to plead guilty in a drug case. He arrived at the courthouse wearing body armor in a rented SUV with both homemade and commercially made explosives, two handguns, zip ties, water and other gear. He dropped homemade spike strips and used smoke devices in an effort to keep officers from reaching him, said Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper.

Authorities were familiar with Marx, who had placed obstacles around his home about 40 miles northeast of Atlanta when officers came to arrest him in the past. Bomb squads carefully checked the home in a hilly, wooded neighborhood, fearing he may have set explosive traps around the property. While explosive devices were found inside the home, they were not set to detonate, Piper said. Marx had left his house several days before the attack, Piper said.

The wounded deputy prevented others from getting hurt when he encountered Marx, Piper said. The sheriff's office said in a news release that Marx tried to run over the deputy, and the deputy then shot at Marx.

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

Other deputies heard the gunshots and rushed to help, leading to a gunbattle that lasted about two minutes and involved eight deputies, Piper said. It was not clear which one fired the fatal shot, he said.

The downtown area around the courthouse remained cordoned off by police tape Friday evening.

Marx has had numerous run-ins with the law, dating to at least 2011. 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, said Richard Grossman, who represented Marx in the seizure case. Another attorney representing Marx had negotiated a "very favorable" plea deal for the man in the criminal case, and Marx had been scheduled to plead guilty on Friday morning.

"It seems like he was really afraid and did this irrational act," said Grossman.

Marx had filed a federal civil rights complaint against the sheriff's department in 2013, according to court records.

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.

Meanwhile, the wounded deputy, who has been with the department for 25 years, was shot below his knee. He suffered two broken bones in his leg and underwent surgery Friday afternoon. He is expected to make a full recovery. His name was not released.

The streets in the neighborhood where Marx lived are steep, narrow and lined with modest homes nestled close together among the trees. Neighbor Dorothy Varano said it's a calm and peaceful place to live where neighbors are friendly but don't involve themselves in each other's business.

Varano has lived just up the street from where Marx lived for the last 10 years. She said she had a run-in with him seven or eight years ago when she was walking her Maltese dog, Daisy, past his house and his dog attacked hers. His dog grabbed hers in its jaws and shook the Maltese back and forth. Marx told her his dog wasn't being aggressive and was just playing with her dog like a toy.

Her dog was badly injured and required expensive treatment, and she was surprised when Marx offered to pay her vet bill. He paid it, gave her a small electronic device that emits a sound that's supposed to stop an attacking dog and gave her a box of candy.

Still, she said she decided long ago that she would steer clear of Marx.

"I decided he was not a person I was going to cross in any way because he would probably slash my tires or put something in my gas tank," she said.

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jimmymac 06/06/14 - 02:25 pm

Maybe but I'm glad the cops were a better shot than he was. I'm also glad they saved the taxpayers a ton of dough by not having to go through a trial.

happychimer 06/06/14 - 02:43 pm
He was due in court today on

He was due in court today on weapons charges. He was a gun buyer/trader.

geecheeriverman 06/07/14 - 05:00 am
numerous run ins with the law

"dating to at least 2011, he was arrested on numerous felony charges, including selling marijuana and weapons charges" When will these bleeding heart liberal judges start sending offenders like this to prison for a long time. The defense attorney has to faulted also. I will bet that when the money from the sale of the drugs was all gone, Mr. Grossman would be also be gone.

nocnoc 06/07/14 - 07:54 am
We have had this discussion 1000's

To be an Assault Rifle it must be able to:
FIRE FULL AUTO by holding the trigger
and can be placed in Select Fire 1x shot per trigger pull.

This RAMBO want-a-be NUT JOB
likely had a AR-15, NOT a M-16 and he had some home made fireworks with BB's added.

An AR15 is nothing more that a .22LR on steroids
40 grain vs 55 grains in Bullet weight

Heck a 22LR even travels further than a .223 round.

nocnoc 06/07/14 - 08:03 am
NEXT statement made 1000's telling if 1 once

"Marx has had numerous run-ins with the law, dating to at least 2011. In August of that year, he was arrested on numerous felony charges, including selling marijuana and weapon possession."

Yet he had all these weapons.

So it does not seem any GUN LAWS kept another NUT CASE criminal from gaining access to Firearms.

While such laws inhabit and delay honest citizens daily from protecting themselves.

NOTE: How well armed he was and all it took was 1 person ARMED person with a defensive weapon to stop him from killing dozens.
Lucky he attacked a Court house, if this NUT JOB had attacked a persons home or business there would have been many killed waiting for the national average of 10-12 mins for police response.

The Police are spread thin for a few reasons.
1. we don't won't a Police State.
2. Taxes to have a LEO on every corner would kill us.
3. 2nd Amendment does work when allowed to.

historylover 06/08/14 - 09:48 am
Forsyth County Newspaper

"Piper described Marx as a “sovereign citizen” who was due in court on drug and weapons charges."

This very important fact was left out of the above report. These are the people we really need to watch. This movement is not one organization, but a radical way of thinking that is being adopted by many extreme right wing thinkers in many states. Georgia has more groups of these so called "sovereign citizen" groups than you would think. Check out the Southern Poverty Law Center website if you want more details on these anti-government groups.

Oh, and by the way, that's all government, not just the current administration!

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