I have something of a personal interest in the story about the man who was killed after going into the office of his divorce court judge in Van Buren and opening fire with an assault rifle. Few people leave court happy after divorce and custody proceedings. I know my wife has been happy to have a bailiff on hand during her 25 years on the bench.
Change in security will be coming in Crawford County to mirror what’s already in place in Pulaski County and many other courthouses.
County Judge John Hall says the courthouse will be closed Wednesday but will try to open Thursday morning.
“We’re probably looking at getting security guards,” Hall said. “We have six entrances at the courthouse. Yes, there is going to be a change in security. The days to free access to the oldest courthouse west of the Mississippi is over.”
UPDATE: The State Police confirms that the shooter, James Ray Palmer of Kibler, held a state concealed carry permit. He’d held it since 2010.
Also, authorities tell KFSM that a fire at Palmer’s home apparently was linked to “timed incendiary devices.” His motorcycle saddlebags also contained metal spikes, leading to speculation he might have used them if chased by police.
UPDATE II: The state Supreme Court issued a statement on the shooting and efforts underway to increase security for court personnel. The statement notes that Crawford County had received money for security upgrades, including “panic buttons” used to summon help yesterday.