Six months since two women were killed during a shooting at a Delaware Courthouse, the man responsible for security at courthouses statewide is claiming that advanced warnings were made that may have prevented the tragedy.
On February 11, 68-year-old Thomas Matusiewicz shot and killed Christine Belford, 39, and her friend, 47-year-old Laura Mulford, in the lobby of the New Castle County courthouse before taking his own life.
Over half a year later, NBC10 obtained a report that reveals there were warnings about weaknesses in security that were never addressed prior to the shooting. Using the Federal “Freedom of Information” Act, NBC10 requested a security survey conducted at the courthouse by U.S. Marshals back in 2011.
While much of the information was blacked out by the government due to security concerns, the report still reveals that the state of Delaware knew of security weaknesses long before the shooting. Chief Justice Myron Steele of the Delaware Supreme Court says he requested that more police officers be added to the courthouse based on the survey’s findings.
“I requested it,” Steele said. “The State of Delaware did not.”
Steele, who is responsible for security at all of Delaware’s courthouses, says he requested money to make the security upgrades in 2012 but that the Delaware legislature denied it. Steele also says the FBI was watching him because "he had caused some trouble and was out of Federal prison on probation". However, Steele says that information was not shared with Capitol Police at the New Castle County Courthouse.
"If it had been, he would have been singled out. Members of his family would have been watched. And maybe the (shooting) incident wouldn't have happened," said Steele.
After the shooting, that lack of communication quickly changed.
“It forced us to take another look at everything,” Steele said. “Not just the courthouse but all courthouses.”
After the deaths of Belford and Mulford, the state came up with the $3.2 million needed to add more security. More surveillance cameras and police officers are now at the courthouses. In addition, from now on, courthouses in Delaware will have "an early warning plan" to identify individuals that may pose a threat to security. A detective at each courthouse is assigned to coordinate with other law enforcement agencies to gain intelligence on people who have business at the courthouse and have the potential to cause problems.
NBC10 reached out to the family of Belford and Mulford. They declined comment however.