Visitors to the Earle Cabell federal courthouse, where a shooter opened fire early Monday, have to be screened at both public entrances, which are equipped with metal detectors as well as X-ray machines for bags and other possessions.
Those who want to enter a courtroom have to go through a second security screening on the individual floors, also with metal detectors and X-ray machines.
Visitors do not have to remove their shoes when going through the entrances. However, they are required to do so during the secondary security screenings in order to get access to the courtrooms. In Monday’s shooting, the gunman, identified as Brian Clyde, was shot dead. He never made it into the building. No one else was injured.
Watch exclusive video from Dallas Morning News photographer Tom Fox, who witnessed the shooting:
While metal detectors and other security measures are common at courthouses today, it took two deadly rampages in the early 1990s before the widespread adoption of security screenings in state and county courthouses in North Texas. Federal courthouses, which operate under a different system, beefed up security following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
On July 1, 1992, George Lott opened fire inside the Tarrant County Courthouse, killing two lawyers, seriously wounding two appellate judges and grazing another attorney.
Lott had been indicted a few months earlier on aggravated sexual assault charges stemming from allegations that he had sexually abused his son at a motel in Peoria, Ill., according to police and court records. He was scheduled to be tried later that July on the more serious of the charges, according to the prosecutor’s office in Peoria, where the son lived.
In the Fort Worth courthouse shooting, Lott fired a 9-millimeter handgun, which he calmly reloaded. Two prosecutors were killed, and three people, including two judges, were wounded.
Lott fled and hours later surrendered at WFAA-TV (Channel 8), where he told the television station he was upset over a a child custody case and sexual abuse charges against him. Two years later, Lott, 47, was put to death by lethal injection.
After the shooting spree, Tarrant County officials installed metal detectors and X-ray machines at all entrances to county buildings. They added 40 deputies to operate the machines and provide security inside the buildings.
In Dallas County, it took a work shutdown by judges to force the changes.
On Jan. 19, 1993, Hai Van Huynh, 30, shot and killed his estranged wife in the hallway of the George L. Allen Sr. Courts Building. Huynh also shot and fatally injured himself. The couple had emigrated from Vietnam in 1990.
The shooting prompted Dallas County's 57 judges to declare the courts unsafe and immediately shut them down. The county's justice system came to a virtual standstill: Jury trials were halted in the middle of testimony, and courtrooms were quickly locked.
Just two days after the shooting, county officials approved the new security measures requiring everyone entering the county's three main courthouses in downtown Dallas to go through weapons screenings similar to those at airport terminals. Each person would walk through a metal detector. And each bag and briefcase would be sent through an X-ray machine.