Officials: Phoenix courthouse shooting suspect not tied to anti-police groups
PHOENIX — A suspect accused of shooting and injuring a security guard Tuesday in a drive-by shooting outside a federal court building in downtown Phoenix is not tied to anti-police groups, officials said Thursday.
David Gonzalez, the U.S. Marshal for the District of Arizona, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News that authorities instead believe 68-year-old James Lee Carr is suffering from mental illness.
Carr was booked Tuesday on two federal counts, assault on a federal officer with a deadly weapon and discharging a firearm during a violent crime.
“We don’t believe he was involved in any type of group like BLM or antifa,” Gonzalez said. “We believe he’s an individual who is suffering from some mental illness.”
Tweets from Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio immediately following the incident strongly suggested the shooter was influenced by an anti-police group.
DiCiccio doubled down on his claims Wednesday, stating that the alleged shooter was a BLM supporter who was attempting to kill a police officer.
Carr, who made his first court appearance Thursday since his arrest, didn’t seek to be released from jail, though he still has the option of doing so later in the case.
Attorney Dan Cooper, who represents Carr, told Magistrate Judge Thomas Ferraro that his client is having serious problems with hallucinations and should be examined by a psychiatrist. Cooper said he witnessed his client having a conversation when no one else was in the room.
After the brief hearing, Cooper declined to comment on Carr’s behalf.
Immediately after the shooting, Carr called his brother and said he was sitting in a park and “wanted to die because he shot the security guard,” according to a criminal complaint.
Carr’s brother, son and ex-wife went to the park. His ex-wife took Carr’s guns away without incident and called 911.
His son said Carr told him that he “snapped and shot a security guard … because the security guard was harassing him,” according to the documents.
Carr has not yet entered a plea on the charges.
Carr’s ex-wife, Donna Gonzales, has told The Associated Press that Carr has a long history of mental illness but had never been violent. She dismissed any notion that he was making a statement following nationwide protests over police brutality and the weekend ambush of two Los Angeles County deputies.
She blamed his mental illness.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.