The wife and son of a terminally ill grandfather who gunned down his daughter-in-law and her friend in the New Castle County courthouse on Monday are now considered suspects, according to law enforcement sources.
Thomas S. Matusiewicz was accompanying his son, David, to a child support hearing that morning. According to court documents released today, the two men hugged, David walked on through the metal detectors and his dad stayed in the lobby, where he waiting until about 8:15 when David’s ex-wife Christine Belford walked in with her neighbor and friend, Laura Mulford.
"He walked right up the first victim and shot her point-blank right in the chest. He then turned around and shot a second woman who was approximately 10 feet away," said Bill Heriot, a plaintiff in an unrelated court case.
Mulford, 47, tried to run, but Matusiewicz chased her down and shot her multiple times, according to court documents. Thomas Matusiewicz, 68, then got into a shootout with two Capitol police officers, injuring both before he put his semiautomatic Glock to his own head and killed himself.
Upon reports of the incident, police closed surrounding streets and nearby schools went on lockdown. Inside, visitors and courthouse employees ran for cover, later recounting stories of shattered glass and people screaming.
"A lot of people were crying," said Emma Harding who was in a stairwell when the gunfire started. Police took her and several other people to the basement, where they were kept for hours until the building was secured. "They were just traumatized and shaken," and couldn't talk to family or friends because their cell phones didn't work in the basement.
Irvin Neal was on his way into the courthouse as others were fleeing. "I saw a gentleman and a bunch of ladies and people running out of the court building and I just hear all the bam, bam, bam, so I ran too. And the gentleman that passed me told me not to go in there."
Neal said he and the others ran up the block, where the man who'd warned him away, said he'd come face-to-face with the gunman.
"And he told me that the shooter pointed the gun at him, passed him by and shot everybody else."
The injured officers were saved by their bulletproof vests, according to William Jopp, chief of Capitol Police. One took a shot to the chest and the other was hit in the leg.
Security at the courthouse is normally tight. According to defense attorney Brian Chapman, on a daily basis there are eight to 10 Capitol Police officers on security detail inside the courthouse.
"When I first heard about this, my first thought was that the only way someone could have gotten in there was to avoid the metal detectors, which is very hard to do, or go in firing," he said.
"There are at least four or five rows of metal detectors when you go in, you put your belongings through, then you have to walk through the metal detectors. Then there are usually eight to 10 police with wands checking everyone and after that you still have to walk by a desk where Capitol Police sit."
All three Matusiewicz family members were involved in what became a tumultuous, years-long battle over custody of son David’s three children. David kidnapped the couple's daughters in 2007 and along with his mother, drove took them to Nicaragua where they remained for 19 months. He pleaded guilty to bank fraud and international kidnapping, served time in prison and in September was released to house confinement. One of Belford’s attorneys says Thomas sent him “packets of lies” about Belford and that she had a security system with cameras installed at her home because she feared her ex and both parents.
“She was afraid that David, after he got out of prison, or Lenore, after she got out of prison, or Tom, at some time would maybe try to take the kids again,” said James Woods, Jr., who represented Belford in a civil suit against the Matusiewicz family.
After the courthouse shooting, investigators found paperwork on Thomas Matusiewicz’s body that included two hand-written death certificates – one for Christine Belford and the other for Timothy Hitchings, another attorney who has represented her through her divorce and child custody proceedings, according to court documents.
The New Castle County courthouse is expected to re-open on Thursday.
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