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Georgia courthouse assault suspect prepared to take hostages

'Sovereign citizen' gunned down by authorities in Georgia courthouse attack
Georgia sheriff's deputy credited for "selfless act of heroism" that halted a man's attack on a courthouse
Man suing Georgia sheriff's department for excessive force killed in violent attempt to take over a courthouse

Roadways reopened Saturday near a Georgia courthouse that was nearly terrorized a day earlier by a man who planned to take hostages and had used homemade spike strips, grenades, his car and an assault rifle to thwart responding officers.

But “the selfless acts of heroism” of several deputies, including one who was wounded, quickly put an end to the assault on the courthouse, Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper said in a statement Saturday. Daniel Rush, the deputy shot in the leg, is “in good spirits and is recovering well,” Piper said.

Rather than turn up on time for a court hearing Friday morning on charges of marijuana and firearms possession, Dennis Marx was apparently readying for his assault on the courthouse.

Sheriff’s Department officials told the Associated Press on Saturday that they found a checklist at Marx's home in Cumming, Ga., that listed all of the weapons and tools that police found inside the car Marx drove toward the courthouse.

The items included zip ties and explosives that could be tied to hostages. Police found more explosive devices at his home, according to the Associated Press.

Marx, 48, was killed during the shootout with deputies. Piper described him as a “sovereign citizen,” a class of people who challenge differing aspects of government such as taxes and criminal laws.

Marx had a beef with the Sheriff’s Department, stemming from his 2011 arrest and subsequent indictment on 11 felony drug and weapons charges.

Last August, he sued the department for civil rights violations, alleging in federal court that deputies regularly engaged in excessive force and overzealous searches and seizures. He had been representing himself in the lawsuit.

Marx said in the court documents that inmates in Forsyth County had to deal with sewage on the floors and limited access to medical care. Deputies also hit and kicked him and refused to loosen handcuffs, Marx alleged.

In a court filing in April, Marx said deputies had seized some of his property, which prevented him from protecting his family and contributed to the death of a family member. The case brought against him, meanwhile, was ruining his own life and hurting his chances of finding a job, he said. Marx also described himself as a professional gun collector, with other court documents listing guns as among the items police sought to seize.

Efforts to reach family members of Marx were unsuccessful.

On Saturday, Sheriff Piper offered thanks to the community, shared how proud he was of deputies and praised their professionalism.

"The incident yesterday was without a doubt a true test of our physical and mental preparedness,” Piper said.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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