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Man who wounded deputy at Georgia courthouse dies in shootout

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A man armed with an assault rifle and explosives who drove up to a courthouse in the north Georgia town of Cumming on Friday and shot and wounded a sheriff's deputy in the leg was killed in a shootout with authorities, officials said.

The suspect, Dennis Marx, pulled his silver sport utility vehicle to the front of the courthouse and was immediately confronted by a sheriff's deputy, Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper told reporters. Marx had been engaged in a legal dispute with the county sheriff's department.

During the gunfight, Marx tossed smoke and pepper-gas grenades to obstruct the officers, Piper said. He also threw out "spike strips" to block anyone from reaching him, Piper said.

"Mr. Marx was shooting at the deputy through the windshield and hit the deputy in the leg," the sheriff said. "Other deputies from inside the courthouse came out and engaged him with their firearms."

Marx, who had a scheduled court hearing on Friday, had several explosive devices on him, the sheriff said. Inside his car, authorities found extra ammunition, water and plastic strips that could be used to restrain people.

"We don't know his motive right now but he came prepared to stay a while," Piper said. "We have to assume he was there to occupy the courthouse. The only way I can describe it is a frontal assault."

In a federal lawsuit filed last July, Marx accused the Forsyth County Sheriff's Department with using "excessive force during routine police activities," and conducting illegal search and seizures. He said Forsyth deputies raided his home, and struck and kicked him during an arrest in 2011.

According to federal court records, Marx was indicted in April 2012 on several drug-related charges.

Marx described himself in court documents as a self-employed construction subcontractor and gun instructor who "works with weapons on a regular basis, participating in various events and gun shows throughout the southeastern U.S."

Police on Friday were searching Marx's home and believed it was booby-trapped with explosives designed to injure law enforcement officers, Piper said. Marx had not lived in the home for at least 10 days, the sheriff added.

(Editing by Kevin Gray and Will Dunham)

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