Multi-Agency Security Exercise

Many of you may have noticed the Gadsden County Courthouse surrounded by a SWAT team and blocked off with crime tape Friday afternoon.

So, what was going on?

A Leon County sheriff's helicopter hovered above the Gadsden County Courthouse, with deputies, police, snipers, and even a robot surrounding the building on the ground.

A hostage manages to run to safety.

Passers-by witness it all unfold.

Quincy Resident Alease Starks describes what she saw, "Maybe one of the people that was in court might have held it up, like you see in a lot of these other places where they have custody cases. Somebody might come out and pull out a gun and start shooting everyone. That's what I thought."

Starks was almost right.

Trial Court Administrator Grant Slayden of the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court explains the incident was in result of, "A domestic violence hearing that went terribly wrong. The husband at the hearing pulled out a weapon, shot two individuals including one of our judges, Judge Nikki Ann Clark."

However, none of it was real, except for the dedication by the Gadsden and Leon County Sheriff's Offices, the Quincy Police, Florida Highway Patrol, and other state and local agencies conducting the security exercise.

"The perpetrator fled with his own children to the jury room and held them hostage,” says Slayden. “The SWAT team and hostage negotiators arrived and assisted local law enforcement in dealing with the situation."

The suspect was finally taken down after a couple of hours and all the hostages are safe.

Exercise Successful
Slayden says the exercise allows the agencies to get extensive training in keeping citizens safe. He says it was a success.

A Gadsden County Sheriff's spokesperson says this was the first multi-agency, multi-county exercise of this magnitude undertaken in the area.