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Courthouse shooting suspect held on $4 million bond

A man accused of opening fire outside a courthouse in Beaumont, Texas, killing a bystander and wounding three others, including two family members, was being held on $4 million bond.
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A man accused of opening fire at a courthouse in Beaumont, Texas, killing an innocent bystander and wounding three others, including two family members, was being held on $4 million bond Thursday.

Beaumont police said Bartholomew Granger, 41, fired shots from a pickup truck as he drove by the Jefferson County Courthouse about 11:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Granger was on trial for a charge of sexually assaulting a family member.

"We just heard a lot of shots," witness Donna Wheeler said. "At first, we just thought some cars were backfiring, but then there were too many."

"The shooter shot and ran over his daughter," said Carol Riley with the Beaumont Police Department.

The 20-year-old daughter was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

Three other people, including the shooter's ex-wife, were wounded in the shooting, according to officials.

Minnie Ray Sebolt, 79, of Deweyville, Texas, an innocent bystander, was killed, investigators said.

Granger's ex-wife, Claudia Jackson, and a fourth person, an unidentified woman, were treated and released from a hospital.

Several law enforcement officers returned fire as the courthouse about 80 miles east of Houston went on lockdown.

"It was crazy," said Beaumont Police Chief Jimmy Singletary. "He was shooting. Our guys were shooting."

Granger was wounded by police as he fled.

"Beaumont police officers encountered him on the street, along with Jefferson County officers, and returned fire," said Deputy Chief Vena Stephens of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. "The subject then, after taking some rounds in front of the courthouse in his vehicle, wrecked his vehicle, got out of his vehicle and then ran into a building. He entered the building and was able to get a couple hostages."

The standoff at a construction business three blocks from the courthouse did not last long.

Officials said the hostages actually helped to disarm Granger.

"He had several wounds and he kind of started going down. And one of the individuals in there took him out, knocked him out of the chair and took the gun away from him," witness Kirby Gilfillian said.

Granger told police by phone that he was wounded, then he surrendered and was taken to the hospital.

Granger was released into the custody of the sheriff's office and charged with murder.

The Jefferson County courthouse remained closed Thursday. The front doors were shattered from the shootout. Investigators said dozens of shots were fired.

"There are so many witnesses and such a large crime scene, they just have to stay on task and do what they have to do to bring justice to the victims," Riley said.

Rife Kimler, Granger's attorney, said his client's 20-year-old daughter had testified against Granger on Tuesday in what was an emotional family dispute, but that he had thought the trial was going reasonably well.

"I didn't have him on my list of dangerous ones," Kimler said of Granger.

In a separate civil case related to the criminal trial this week, Granger sued the cities of Beaumont and Houston, their police departments and the two surrounding counties complaining of an "unprovoked brutal attack" against his family.

A federal judge dismissed the civil suit in December.

Friends of Sebolt were shocked and saddened after hearing of her death. They said she was at the courthouse, about 45 miles from her home, with her daughter filling out paperwork for a car.

"Unbelievable, I couldn't believe it. When I got the text, I ran over to her house. She wasn't there," Jeanette Berry, one of Sebolt's friends and tenants said. "She was like a second momma to me. And I mean anybody that needed help, that woman helped."

Berry and her husband, Julian, were buying a home from Sebolt.

"She was the sweetest woman in the world," Julian Berry said through tears. "She's helped me many times."