Eerie Day After Shooting At Smith County Courthouse
Bullet holes and chipped marble are scattered throughout the building. Tyler police officers, sheriff's deputies, and FBI agents have worked around the clock since yesterday afternoon.
A full schedule of hearings was replaced by eery silence this morning, as investigators continued gathering evidence. As the minutes went by, one by one, people who work on The Square came to reflect on the horror that played out before their eyes.
"All last night, I couldn't sleep or nothing, so I'm back down here this morning," Wallace Johnigan said. "I still don't believe it, really."
Home has changed for Johnigan, who was born and raised in Tyler, and frequently does business on The Square.
Likewise, for Henry Pendergrass, who has lived here for 30 years and does his banking downtown.
"I'm awfully shocked that this happened here in Tyler, TX," he said, choking up. "We've had too much here lately. I'm sorry, but I break up easily, but it's just a shame to use people this way. This really is like just, it's gone to the dogs. But I don't know what to do, except to pray about it. That's all we can do."
In a law firm just down the street from the courthouse, Osra Twomey, a secretary, hid behind her desk, then came out to see the heartbreaking reality.
"I just hope that that poor man who took it upon himself to save some people, he's in heaven now," she said. "He's an angel up there."
A changed landscape for many who, like Henry, moved here to raise a family in a small, quiet community.
"I have a daughter and a grandson," Pendergrass said. "And I hate to see them grow up in this kind of environment. But that's the way it goes."
"It'll never be the same. It'll never be the same," Johnigan said.
Flowers in significant locations around The Square are reminders of just that. People have left flowers in the spot where Maribel Estrada, gunman David Arroyo's ex-wife, was killed; where Mark Wilson was shot and killed in a heroic gun battle with Arroyo; and in front of the loft apartment where Wilson lived.
Investigators have wrapped up their preliminary investigation for the day. They've boarded up the windows and doors, which were shattered in yesterday's shooting.
Julie Tam, reporting.
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