Juror in courthouse during shooting describes lockdown

Cathy Sforza reported for jury duty and made it through the security line just minutes before the gunfire started.

She arrived at her jury room in the New Castle County Courthouse in downtown Wilmington just before 8:15 a.m., when she says she heard a total of six gunshots ring out in the courthouse.  She says workers moved the group of about 25 jurors into an interior room while they waited for help.  

She describes the ordeal as ‘nerve wracking.’  “You could hear people in the hall, but you didn’t know who they were or what was going on at that point,” Sforza said.  “There was another woman who was overwhelmed. She was crying.”  

Finally, police came through their floor and frisked everyone as part of their procedural check of the entire 12-story building.  Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams came to meet with the jurors in the courthouse briefly. “He thanked everybody for our patience, and he was glad that no one was hurt.”  

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Sforza says Williams also used the opportunity to push for stronger gun laws.  She says he told them “This is why he’s trying to push for more finances, so that he can get better laws as far as guns and all of this so that we will not have to go through this again.”

They were finally released several hours after the shooting.  

Reflecting on the experience, for Sforza can’t help but think what-if.  “On the way home, all I could think was, I was only five minutes away from it.  And all I said was, ‘I have somebody up above looking over me, taking care of me, because had I just been a few minutes later, I would have been there.” 

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