Victims and suspected shooter formally identified

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The New Castle County Courthouse was closed  on Tuesday as the investigation continued into a shooting that left three dead  on Monday.

” The goal is to open for business on Wednesday, February 13, 2013.  All other courthouses will be open for business as usual tomorrow,” a release stated. Gov. Jack Markell is cutting short a trade mission to India to return to the state following the shooting.

State Police, on Tuesday,  formally identified the three persons killed as Christine Belford, 39,  of Newark;  Laura Mulford, 47 of Newark; and the suspected shooter,  Thomas S. Matusiewicz, 68 of Edcouch, Texas.

 Attorney General Beau Biden said the shooting was related to a custody dispute and was not a random act. He provided no further details.  Bedford was the former daughter in law of  Matusiewicz and Mulford was a friend of Bedford. The two women were at the courthouse on a matter related to the custody battle with Matusiewicz’s son.

The  shooting was reported at the New Castle County Courthouse in downtown Wilmington on  Monday morning.

Two Capitol Police officers were injured., but  were quickly released from the hospital, thanks to the use of protective vests, a State Police spokesman said..

The  suspected shooter was the father of former  Newark optometrist, David Matusiewicz who took his children to central America during a custody battle.  The children and the man were later returned to the U.S and the younger  Matusiewicz served time in prison on abduction and bank fraud charges. He was released this year.

David   Matusiewicz was initially identified  as the shooting suspect. However, a  State Police spokesman warned reporters that he  could not be confirmed as the assailant and reports were later retracted. David Matusiewicz’s parents were accused of aiding their son in spiriting the children out of the county.

The shooting took place in the unsecured lobby  of the courthouse The courthouse is typically busy on Monday mornings as juries are selected and other matters are heard.

The courthouse has been under heavy security since its opening with all persons required to go through an airport-style metal detector.

Despite its name, the courthouse is operated by the State of Delaware. It handles all civil and criminal matters outside the Justice of the Peace and alderman courts in New Castle County.

Chancery Court, the nation’s leading business court, also operates  from the Courthouse.

Security is provided by the Capitol Police, a little known law enforcement unit formed in the mid 1960s  that protects some state facilities including courthouses and Legislative Hall. A Capitol Police officer was believed to have been among those injured and officers from the force returned fire when the shooting began.

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