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Cumming residents relieved gunfight wasn’t worse

Deputy undergoes surgery but should recover after Friday firefight left gunman dead

POSTED: June 7, 2014 9:11 p.m.

CUMMING — Although their feelings of relief mingled with alarm, members of the downtown Cumming business community said they were grateful a Friday courthouse confrontation ended with limited casualties.

An armed man identified by authorities as 48-year-old Dennis Ronald Marx of Cumming was killed after triggering a firefight with authorities when he attempted a violent entry into the Forsyth County Courthouse.

One deputy was wounded in the exchange of gunfire but is expected to recover.

Workers and patrons at nearby businesses reacted as the chaos unfolded just blocks away.

“We just had a bunch of people run in here,” said Sal’s Place worker Nick Adragna. “There were so many rumors going around. It all happened so fast.”

Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies shot several times at Marx, who went down before setting foot inside the courthouse. 

Deputy Daniel Rush was shot in the leg, and Sheriff Duane Piper said Rush’s swift actions prevented the loss of lives.

“It’s reassuring that the cops did a great job,” Adragna said. “And it is alarming. It’s scary that that can happen in a small town like this.”

According to Piper, Marx drove a rented silver Nissan Armada onto the courthouse plaza about 9:57 a.m. and threw out spike strips to hold off law enforcement’s response before beginning a “full frontal assault” on the facility.

An employee at the Laguna Mexican Grill said the attack was eerie in one particular sense to her.

“I live down the street, and I normally would have been walking in that same place at that same time,” Yuritizi Patino said.

If she had been there, “I would have run,” she said.

Her co-worker, Karina Aguirre, said she monitored news and social media for information on the incident as it unfolded. There was an immediate emotional impact upon realizing that the deputy was a frequent customer.

“He always sits right there,” she said, motioning to a booth. “He always gets the chicken and cheese nachos.”

Aguirre also recognized the suspect, who according to the sheriff’s office was scheduled to appear in court that morning to enter a guilty plea on drug and weapon violations from August 2011.

Marx was charged with offenses including manufacturing marijuana, possessing a firearm or knife during the commission of a felony and possession with intent to distribute.

He harbored bitter feelings toward the arrest, court records showed. Marx filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s office with the U.S. District Court, alleging his civil rights were violated.

Piper said the facts of Marx’s attack indicated it had been months in the making. He donned a gas mask, threw tear gas grenades, smoke grenades and pepper spray grenades. He was also carrying plastic flex cuffs used for restraint, Piper said.

A total of nine deputies shot at Marx. All have been placed on paid administrative leave, a standard practice for officers involved in a shooting.

Rush, a 30-year-veteran of the force, is in recovery from surgery to repair two broken bones in his leg.

A courthouse block well-acquainted with law enforcement will be ready to embrace Rush whenever he can drop in again.

“They eat here every day,” Adragna said. “We know them. They know us.”


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