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Forsyth County courthouse reopens after fatal shooting
Dennis Ronald Marx

CUMMING — Forsyth County’s clerk of courts said it was business as usual in the courthouse Monday, three days after an armed man attempted to storm the building in a hail of gunfire.

“It was a little surreal, but everyone seems to be doing pretty well today,” Greg Allen said.

He added the grand jury started its session Monday morning; however, trial jurors were told not to come to court until today.

“(We) weren’t sure if the courthouse was going to be ready,” Allen said. “... We just delayed it a day to give us time and make sure everything was OK.”

The gunman, 48-year-old Dennis Ronald Marx of Cumming, was shot and killed in the attack by Forsyth County sheriff’s deputies, who engaged him outside the courthouse.

According to the sheriff’s office, Marx was scheduled to appear in court that morning to enter a guilty plea on drug and weapon charges from August 2011.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced Monday afternoon that an autopsy revealed Marx died at the result of multiple gunshot wounds.

Sheriff Duane Piper requested the GBI conduct a use-of-force investigation, which is underway. When the investigation is completed, it will be provided to Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn.

County Manager Doug Derrer said Marx’s vehicle destroyed a wrought iron bench as it came onto the courthouse plaza Friday morning, but the rest of the damage was primarily glass and cosmetic.

“Minor damage was done to several handrails, an architectural column, the flagpole, several bricks, door trim casings and a historical marker sign,” Derrer said. “Two storm windows and two small glass panels at the courthouse were damaged and a single glass panel at the administration building was damaged.”

With the exception of minor touchup painting, all repairs to the courthouse have been made. According to Derrer, the damaged glass panel at the county’s administration building was being measured for replacement.

Derrer said the county’s staff and a local glass provider have made all the repairs, estimated to have cost less than $2,500.

Allen said for the most part, the courthouse doesn’t look any different.

“They fixed all that on Sunday,” Allen said. “They’ve got everything cleaned up.”

Despite being down nine officers, Maj. Rick Doyle said thanks to cross-training the sheriff’s office began last year, the courthouse was fully staffed with officers.

“That’s the whole reason we stressed the cross-training, so we didn’t miss a beat with any of the security protocols here,” he said. “We were prepared for it, so it worked out great.”

In addition to Deputy Daniel Rush, who was wounded while deterring Marx, eight other deputies shot at the gunman during the incident and were immediately placed on administrative leave.

“They’re all going through their psychological evaluations today and tomorrow and their interviews with the GBI regarding the shooting, so we’re hoping to have them all back on regular duty Wednesday,” Doyle said.

Despite having to undergo a second surgery Monday, Rush was doing well, according to Doyle

“He’s still in really good spirits,” Doyle said. “He’s been very humbled by the whole experience.” After nearly 25 years on the job, “All he’s thinking about is how soon he can get back to work.

“He’s still got a long road to recovery,” Doyle said, but added the agency will place him on light duty as soon as doctors clear him.

Rush has received a steady flow of visitors from elected officials, friends and his courthouse and sheriff’s office family, including judges.

And in addition to the company, Rush has received gifts and assistance from the community and local businesses.

“One of the first things he said in the hospital bed was that he was worried about getting his grass cut, so we set up a landscaping service to cut his grass for the next four months,” Doyle said.

“Home Depot has donated some wood and (volunteers) are using it to build a ramp for him to be able to get into his house.”

In addition, a small fund has been set up for him at BB&T bank to help pay for incidentals and expenses not covered by workers’ compensation.

“Some of his good friends actually started it,” Doyle said. “They’re going to be selling T-shirts starting Friday.”

The James Daniel Rush account has been set up for anyone who would like to visit a BB&T branch and donate money to help Rush.