Court Officials Arrest Woman, Seize Pistol

A 35-year-old Los Angeles woman was arrested Monday after an X-ray machine detected a small-caliber handgun in her purse as she entered the Van Nuys Municipal Courthouse, officials said.

Valerie Denise Richburg was taken into custody without resistance at about 7:30 a.m. after courthouse security officers found a .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol in her handbag, said Los Angeles County Safety Officer Kim Murray.

Richburg told security officers she came to court to pay a traffic ticket and forgot to remove the weapon, said Murray. She said she began carrying the gun for protection after someone threatened her in a business dispute, Murray said.

Richburg was arrested on suspicion of carrying a deadly weapon in a courthouse, a felony, and held in Van Nuys Jail in lieu of $5,360 bail, Murray said.

Murray said Richburg does not have a concealed-weapons permit. She has no criminal record and the gun was not stolen, he added.

The X-ray machine and a metal detector were installed in the municipal courthouse in response to a March, 1988, incident in which a man with a history of mental problems held a prosecutor hostage. The man, Jeremey Sigmond, a Woodland Hills chiropractor, was shot to death and a bailiff was wounded in an ensuing gun battle.

It was the fourth time a gun has been confiscated since the courthouse opened 13 months ago, said county Safety Police Officer Robert Reynolds.

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