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VIDEO: Wheel Wily: Disabled Inmate Gunned Down When He Stole Prison Guard’s Pistol

Wheelchair-bound gunman tried to break out before a court appearance but was shot after grabbing a guard’s gun.

An inmate in a wheelchair was shot while trying to escape authorities while on his way to a courthouse to face trial for robbery. After first successfully wrestling a gun away from a guard, the suspect — identified by authorities as Frederick Goss — was shot by another guard, who witnessed the attempted escape on a security camera in a nearby room and rushed to his colleague’s aid.

The Illinois State Police released footage of the altercation, along with a description of the events, which took place at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, on Oct. 29.

“Preliminary information indicates a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office correctional officer was transporting Fredrick Goss, a 55-year-old male inmate, to the courtroom for a jury trial for allegedly robbing a gas station. While in the courthouse’s sally port [a secure, controlled entryway], Goss was un-handcuffed by the correctional officer, as Goss was not to appear before the jury in restraints,” police said in the statement.

“After the handcuffs were removed, Goss was transferred from the transport vehicle into a wheelchair. While in the wheelchair, Goss grabbed the correctional officer’s sidearm and after a struggle, disarmed the correctional officer. During the continued struggle for the firearm, a round was discharged.

An Illinois inmate in a wheelchair is seen shortly before disarming a correctional officer at a courthouse. (Illinois State Police District 13 DuQuoin/Zenger)

“A Jefferson County Sheriffs’ Deputy assigned to courthouse security observed the incident on the sally port’s surveillance camera and went to the sally port to aid the officer. The deputy discharged his firearm, striking Goss.”

Goss was subsequently transferred to a nearby hospital in the St. Louis area for treatment. Details on his condition were not immediately available.

The Illinois State police said an investigation into the incident is being conducted by the Jefferson County State’s Attorney Office.

A correctional officer (right) shoots and hits an Illinois inmate (in jeans) who had just wrestled a weapon from another officer (also on the ground). (Illinois State Police District 13 DuQuoin/Zenger)

Problems in such sally ports is just one of several security issues facing many courthouses. A study on that topic undertaken by Fentress Corp., facility planning and assessment company, found that the three most common security risks in court facilities are:

  • Judges not having a path of restricted circulation from the building entrance to chambers.
  • An inadequate number of prisoner holding cells.
  • Circulation pathways to courtrooms that do not allow for the separation of judges, court personnel, prisoners, jury members and the public.

“As a general rule, the optimal solutions [for such shortcomings] will be a combination of the use of law enforcement staff, architectural design and electronic controls,” wrote company founder and president Keith Fentress.

Edited by Matthew B. Hall and Kristen Butler