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Judge, sheriff's deputy wounded in Wash. courthouse attack; gunman at large
MONTESANO, Wash. (AP) ' A man wounded a judge and a sheriff's deputy in a shooting and stabbing attack Friday at a courthouse, said authorities who were hunting for the assailant.
Grays Harbor Community Hospital spokesman David Quigg said Judge David Edwards was conscious and stable after the attack at the Grays Harbor County Courthouse, about 90 miles southwest of Seattle. Details of his injuries and the status of the deputy were not immediately known.
Much of the town of Montesano was on lockdown as authorities surrounded a home where they believed the suspect may be armed with a pistol.
The attack comes a year after Edwards had joined a lawsuit to protest planned state budget cuts he said were making courthouses dangerous, in particular the building that was the site of the shooting. According to budget information from the county, the superior court budget had been cut from $733,320 in 2010 to $645,818 for 2012.
"Anyone can enter the courthouse carrying weapons," said the lawsuit, according to The Aberdeen Daily World newspaper. "Judicial staff is at risk from and has been forced to quell arguments between litigants in the courthouse."
State Patrol Trooper Russ Winger said the attack included a shooting and stabbing, but he did not know the extent of the injuries. It has shaken the community of 4,000 near the Washington coast.
Kathie Wilson, who works at a law firm near the courthouse, said her office locked their doors after getting a call from her daughter-in-law, who was locked in a school while picking her child.
"Everybody in our area has called each other, locking down, we are all watching and waiting to see when everything is OK," Wilson said.
A SWAT team remained at the house where the suspect was believed to be. A half-dozen officers in camouflage uniforms took cover after tossing inside a device that caused the sound similar to a small blast and a cloud of white smoke.
Edwards was appointed to Grays Harbor County Superior Court in 2007 by Gov. Chris Gregoire. He had been a private attorney, and had also served as a prosecutor in the late 1970s.
Associated Press writers Doug Esser and Manuel Valdes in Seattle and Shannon Dininny in Yakima contributed to this report.