Anytime there is a courthouse shooting somewhere, the memories come racing back to Assistant District Attorney Steve Conder.
Wednesday was one of those days.
Twenty years ago Conder was among five people shot inside a Tarrant County courthouse by George Lott, a former attorney, who was angry about losing a child custody case. Conder was just 28 years old then, an appellate prosecutor arguing a misdemeanor criminal mischief case on a routine day in the historically quiet 2nd Court of Appeals.
Luckily Conder, whose chest was grazed by a bullet, lived to see another day.
His boss, Assistant District Attorney Chris Marshall, who had come to the courtroom to watch his young prosecutor, was shot and killed in the rampage along with John Edwards, an attorney with Haynes and Boone. Judge John G. Hill and the late Judge Clyde Ashworth were also wounded in the attack.
Lott was executed 19 months later for his crimes.
On Wednesday Channel 4 News reporter Brandon Todd was working on a story about the courthouse shooting in Beaumont which left one dead and four others injured. He called the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office hoping to talk to someone who remembered Tarrant County’s courthouse shooting 20 years ago.
He didn’t realize Conder was wounded in the attack and still worked here as an Assistant District Attorney for the Appellate Unit. In fact many people, including younger prosecutors and staff members, may not know about or remember that tragic event in 1992 – or the good that came out of it, like increased courthouse security.
They may not realize that Conder was injured in the attack or that ADA Chris Marshall’s picture and awards still hang on the main wall inside the DA’s Office. Some of his law books are on the table below it.
They may not know or remember those things, but they should. It’s not something we should ever forget.
“Being involved in a shooting situation gives you a sense of personal mortality, which you really have no sense of when you are in your twenties.” Conder said. “To think that this may be your last moments can be very shocking. However, it also taught me that tragic things happen to people and you cannot let it keep you from pursuing your life and your career.”
- Melody McDonald, Public Information Officer