DANVILLE — Illinois State Police are investigating an incident at the Vermilion County Courthouse that started when an inmate attacked a deputy, stabbing him in the face, and ended when the deputy shot his assailant.
The incident occurred at 10:06 a.m. Friday in the holding cell of the courthouse, at the corner of North Vermilion and Main streets in downtown Danville.
Authorities have not identified the deputy or the inmate.
The inmate, who was in custody at the county jail, appeared for a hearing at 9 a.m. in a courtroom on the fourth floor of the five-story courthouse. After the hearing, he was escorted by deputies to the holding-cell area, located on the first floor and northeast side of the courthouse.
Sheriff’s Capt. Mike Hartshorn said a deputy was moving the inmate between holding cells.
“After opening the door of the holding cell, an inmate attacked the deputy and stabbed him in the face multiple times,” Hartshorn said. He did not say what the inmate used as a weapon.
Then the deputy discharged his firearm and hit the inmate, Hartshorn said.
He said both men were taken to OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville for treatment.
People who were inside the courthouse said they were asked to stay inside their office or the courtroom they were in until the injured deputy and his assailant were taken away.
Hartshorn said the incident was contained to an isolated area, and did not disrupt court proceedings the rest of the day.
Deputy circuit Clerk Kena Bowman said she was working in the circuit clerk’s office on the first floor when her coworkers who were at the front window said they saw a deputy being taken out the front door of the courthouse and “he had paper towels on his head.”
They said the deputy was loaded into a squad car.
Around the same time, Bowman said another coworker who had been on a break came through the office’s back door and said she heard gunshots.
“We were told not to go outside,” Bowman said.
Alaina Allee, a secretary in the public defender’s office, said she was working at her desk when someone from the state’s attorney’s office called her supervisor and said, “I’m safe, but someone just opened fire.”
She said there were about three attorneys and three office workers in her third-floor office at the time. They turned off the lights and locked the door. Allee and a coworker hid under their desks, and she called her mom, Stacey Black, at 10:17 a.m.
Black, who works for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, said she was on her way to an appointment on the north side of town. When she got her daughter’s call, she turned around and headed to the courthouse.
“By the time I got here, most of the police were dispersing. I just waited here until I could see her and squeeze her,” said Black, who grabbed Allee and pulled her into a tight hug when she saw her outside.
Danville attorney Michael O’Brien was in Courtroom 4B, where a trial was being held. He said he heard sirens around 10:15 a.m.
“The witnesses (in the trial) said people were told not to look over the railing (down to the first floor) or leave the fourth floor,” said O’Brien, who was one of the 10 or so people standing outside around 10:30 a.m.
State police are investigating the incident because it involves an officer-involved shooting.