Official: Courthouse shooter was ex-father-in-law

  • Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 11:44 a.m.
Police confer outside the New Castle County Courthouse,  Monday morning, Feb. 11, 2013, in Wilmington, Del. , after a man killed his estranged wife and two others at the courthouse.  The mayor of Wilmington says police have killed the gunman.  (AP PHOTO)
Police confer outside the New Castle County Courthouse, Monday morning, Feb. 11, 2013, in Wilmington, Del. , after a man killed his estranged wife and two others at the courthouse. The mayor of Wilmington says police have killed the gunman. (AP PHOTO)

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The gunman in a Delaware courthouse shooting that left three dead was the ex-father-in-law of one of the victims, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.

The official, who had been briefed on the situation, spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to release the gunman’s identity while the investigation was continuing. The official identified the shooter as 68-year-old Thomas Matusiewicz of Edcouch, Texas.


Matusiewicz was the former father-in-law of Christine Belford, 39, who police said was fatally shot Monday along with neighbor Laura Mulford, 47. Matusiewicz, armed with a .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun, exchanged gunfire with police and also died.

Joe Rogalsky, a spokesman for the Delaware Attorney General’s Office, declined to confirm the shooter’s identity.

Bill Heriot said he was waiting to enter the courthouse Monday morning when he saw a man pull out a pistol and fire a single shot at each of the two women.

After the shooting stopped, Heriot said he knelt down beside the first woman who was shot.

“I turned her over and unbuttoned her coat. I saw a single bullet hole in the center of her chest,” Heriot said. “I held her hand, told her it was going to be all right. Her pupils dilated. She turned pale and passed away.”

Delaware State Police Sgt. Paul Shavack said Belford and Mulford were at the courthouse for a child support arrears hearing for Belford’s ex-husband, David Matusiewicz.

Shavack said David Matusiewicz was being questioned and was in custody on a federal probation technicality. He did not provide details.

The identity of the shooter was not immediately clear to officials Monday. Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams said he was told a man shot and killed his wife. David Matusiewicz’s sister Amy Gonzalez was in tears when reached at her Texas home Monday and said she did not know who in her family was alive.

David Matusiewicz, a former optometrist pleaded guilty in 2009 to federal fraud and kidnapping charges after fleeing to Central America in a motor home with his three young daughters. Investigators said Matusiewicz, who was released from prison last year, kidnapped the girls after forging his ex-wife’s name on a loan document.

According to court records, Matusiewicz fled to Central America after telling Belford — with whom he shared custody at the time — that he was taking the girls to Disney World for two weeks.

Matusiewicz’s mother, Lenore, the gunman’s wife, pleaded guilty to endangering the girls’ welfare in connection with the kidnapping plot and was sentenced to 18 months.

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