Monday, November 3, 2003
Attorney Shot, Wounded on Walkway Outside Van Nuys Courthouses
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
A gunman upset over a probate matter and money opened fire on an attorney Friday as the lawyer left a Van Nuys courthouse, then was tackled by an off-duty sheriff’s reserve officer as a TV camera rolled.
“You took my money, that’s what you get!” a man later identified as William Strier, 60, yelled at attorney Gerald E. Curry, 53, about 10:20 a.m., police and witnesses said.
Curry, who tried to ward off the shots with his briefcase, retreated behind a tree. As horrified witnesses watched, a portly man with a handgun got within a couple of feet and continually fired at Curry.
Finally, the man seemed to lose interest and calmly walked away, as Curry emerged from behind the tree, stunned, both hands uplifted and walked toward a sidewalk and collapsed. He was taken to Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills where he was listed Friday in critical but stable condition with multiple gunshot wounds in the upper body.
The gunfire broke out as reporters and camera crews were gathered at the courthouse for a hearing in Blake’s murder case. Court TV crews captured the shooting, which occurred on a walkway that runs between the two Van Nuys courthouses, on videotape.
It was being shown on Court TV within hours and was available on Web news sites.
The two adjacent Van Nuys court buildings were locked down for about an hour while police secured the crime scene, Northwest District Supervising Judge Sandy R. Kriegler said. One building houses civil courtrooms and the other is devoted to criminal matters.
Though no one was permitted to leave or enter during the lockdown, matters in progress inside the buildings were not affected by the lockdown, Kriegler explained.
Strier allegedly had been making phone threats against Evelyn Murphy, trustee of the William Strier Special Needs Trust and represented by Curry.
In a request to the court dated Oct. 17, and set for hearing Friday morning in the civil building’s Dept. H, Murphy said she wanted out as trustee. She said she had tried to mediate with Strier’s sister on Aug. 29, but the effort failed.
“At this point, Petitioner feels physically threatened by Mr. Strier, because of his conduct since the last hearing,” the court document states.
Murphy asserted that on Aug. 29, at about 5:15 p.m., she received the first of several “threatening and disturbing” phone calls from Strier. She said Strier cursed her, appeared to be out of control and threatened to kill her.
Daniel Diaz, a freelance photographer working for Court TV, said he heard a popping noise and thought it was related to construction in the area. He said he then saw Curry holding up a briefcase to try to deflect the shots coming at him.
Diaz told reporters:
“I did hear him say, `That’s what you get for taking my money.’ The attorney kept dodging back and forth to the tree and then after several more shots were fired, the suspect put the gun in his right-hand pocket and was walking out towards me. I followed him coming down the courthouse, the path here...he said to me, `That’s what he gets for taking my money.’ ”
Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Jim Miller said the shooting “appeared” to be related to the probate dispute.
Police Friday were not able to say what the suspect does for a living, or where he lives. The shooter was carrying a black shoulder bag, and police said he had two revolvers.
“He is not talking,” Miller said. “It appears that he calmly walked away following the shooting and then was taken to the ground and taken into custody.”
Miller said there was no indication that the suspect had been inside the courthouse before the shooting.
“The victim told us that he did not see the suspect in court today, so we don’t know where he was at prior to the shooting,” he said.
“Following the shooting, it was an off-duty sheriff’s reserve officers who heard the shooting, observed some of the witnesses pointing toward the suspect and took the suspect to the ground.”
Miller said Strier had two guns with him at the time he was apprehended.
“They were revolvers,” he said. “At this point, I can’t say whether he fired both guns or just one.”
Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo released a statement saying he was shocked and outraged by Curry’s shooting.
“Our halls of justice have often served as a sanctuary to resolve our differences in a non-violent and civil manner,” Delgadillo said. “Today’s shooting underscores how real the threat of gun violence is in our society, and how we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to prevent it from ever occurring.”
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company