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Inmate who tried to escape Michigan courthouse: ‘I'll die trying'

Larry Gordon killed 2 deputies, wounded 2 others in Berrien County Courthouse

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – Authorities say an inmate who killed two bailiffs during a July 11 escape attempt from a southwestern Michigan courthouse wrote a letter to his ex-wife explaining that he was "going on the run" or would "die trying."

Details of the letter by 44-year-old Larry Darnell Gordon, as well as video and audio from courthouse cameras were revealed Friday during a news conference in Benton Harbor.

The letter was found after a search of the Berrien County Jail unit where Gordon was housed.

Gordon was facing possible life in prison on rape and kidnapping charges involving a 17-year-old girl.

Berrien County Sheriff's Department Det. Lt. Greg Sanders said Gordon was handcuffed when he disarmed and wounded deputy James Atterberry Jr, 41, then shot bailiffs Joseph Zangaro, 61, and Ronald Kienzle, 63 before being fatally shot by other bailiffs. A female hostage was shot in the arm.

"This incident occurred very quickly. It was very violent," Sanders said. 

Because of a delay in the start of his court hearing, Gordon was being moved back to a holding cell inside the courthouse when the chaos erupted, Sanders said. 

Panicked pleas of "Put it down" and  "Don't shoot" can be heard on the courthouse video. The video also shows deputies and courthouse visitors fleeing the courtroom and in the hallways.