Sheriff: Forsyth courthouse attacker made bombs to attach to hostages

Gunman's past exposed after courthouse shooting

The heavily armed gunman who attempted to storm the Forsyth County courthouse Friday planned to smash his SUV into the building and made bombs to attach to hostages, Forsyth Sheriff Duane Piper said Saturday.

Dennis Marx also wore two sets of bulletproof vests. That initially made it difficult for sheriff’s deputies to stop him before he was shot dead, Piper said.

Marx rented a particular type of SUV — a Nissan Armada — he thought he would be able to drive up the steps of the courthouse and into the building. His homemade explosives, Piper added, were made to physically link hostages together. They were found inside his vehicle.

“Between what he had with him, what he had on him, what he had in the vehicle and what he had at his house, he was coming there to take hostages,” Piper said in an interview at his office in Cumming. “He was coming there to occupy that courthouse and kill as many people as he could.”

Piper said he has not found any evidence indicating Marx had accomplices or was part of any anti-government groups, as had been reported in the news media Saturday. Marx had been battling local law enforcement in court for three years before he launched his assault on the courthouse.

Officials found other explosives in Marx’s home in Cumming, Piper added. They were probably made to booby-trap the house, Piper said, though they had not been set up to do that. Authorities also found a handwritten “grocery style” list Marx wrote about his plans.

“He fully intended to go up the stairs and drive into the front of the courthouse,” Piper said. “He had the restraining devices and the explosives … in bags, buckets — and packaged — to grab out of the vehicle quickly. So he was going to run through the front of the courthouse, grab this stuff and start grabbing people.”

Marx shot Deputy Daniel Rush during the gun battle, fracturing Rush’s tibia and fibula. Rush was in stable condition Saturday and was scheduled to undergo additional surgery. He was being treated at North Fulton Hospital in Roswell, said Douglas Rainwater, a spokesman for the county sheriff’s office.

“He’s in good spirits,” Rainwater said of Rush, adding the injured deputy is “stable, alert, conscious, very active right now. He is ready to come back to work – when he can.”

Meanwhile, officials were repairing damage – including bullet holes — at the courthouse Saturday so the building could open for regular hours Monday, Rainwater said.

Piper credited the bravery of his deputies and their training for preventing Marx from harming others Friday.

“What averted the tragedy were the acts of those courthouse deputies,” Piper said. “Without their taking the proper actions initially, he would have gotten in that courthouse. Then all the tactical guys with the rifles and everything ended it.”