“We’re going to have somebody killed up here if we don’t get some real, genuine security,” said Circuit Judge Jerry Selman, who said there have been two attempts on his life during his time on the bench.
After a couple of recent incidents at the courthouse, Selman said he feels officials are starting to take the issue seriously.
“I think our present Walker County Commission wants to help with the problem,” he said. “They’ve seen the security problem, and I hope they are willing to do something about it.”
The courthouse was placed on lockdown on Thursday after a Jasper man reportedly threatened to kill several people, including his ex-wife. Aubrey Dill is currently being held in the Walker County Jail on a $125,000 cash bond after reportedly threatening to kill his ex-wife and eat her remains. It was reported by police that Dill also said he would kill others. Dill has been charged with three counts of making terrorist threats. Police said Dill was upset that a court ruling did not go his way.
Several weeks ago, another incident took place in a district courtroom when a man fled the courtroom after being found in contempt of court by District Judge Henry Allred.
“I placed him in contempt and he took off,” Allred said. “We’ve all known we have security problems at the courthouse. These incidents have only highlighted those issues. We need to do something about it.”
The man didn’t run far, because he tripped and slammed into a wall near the offices of the Walker County Commission, which was meeting at the time.
“We all heard it when it happened,” District 4 Commissioner Steven Aderholt said.
Commission Chairman Billy Luster said a state official is expected to visit the courthouse in the coming days to evaluate its security. Once that evaluation is complete, Luster said commissioners will act on the issue.
“We want to see what all areas need to be improved and then decide the best route to take to better secure the courthouse,” Luster said. “This is something that needs to be done, and we are going to take care of it.”
Aderholt called the security issue a “serious problem” during a commission meeting last week.
Several officials have said they believe fewer public access points will be a part of the solution to the security problem.
“I think we are going to have to close off some of the entrances to the public,” Luster said. “That’s something that may not be popular, but we’ll have to all learn how to accept it. We’ve got to do what we can to make the courthouse safe for our employees and for the public.”
Selman said he would support blocking all doors except one in the main courthouse and one at Annex 1. Annex 2, which houses the Probate Judge’s office, has just one entrance. “There are just too many ways for people to get in and out of the courthouse,” he said. “We need to limit that in some way.”
Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey said he would be in full support of securing the courthouse.
“I will do what I can do to the best of my abilities,” he said.
Luster said he expected the security issues would be addressed soon.
“We’re not going to wait around on this,” Luster said. “This is an important issue and we will deal with it accordingly.”