Courthouse security X-ray machines reveal gun in bag

LAWRENCEVILLE - Sheriff's deputies confiscated a gun at a security checkpoint at the entrance of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center - the first firearm to be taken since security was spread to the entire building following the Fulton County Courthouse shootings in 2005.

Sheriff's department spokeswoman Stacey Bourbonnais said deputies Mark Chriss and Randy Broner identified the weapon in a bag as it went through X-ray machines at the justice center's entrance.

While an investigation is continuing, deputies did not charge Keith Wayne Coleman, 24, in the incident, as Coleman said he was not aware the gun was in the bag. Bourbonnais said Coleman had used the bag to store his computer but it actually belonged to a client whose computer Coleman was working on.

Coleman was entering the courthouse with his attorney to attend a hearing in Magistrate Court involving a civil Internet registry case, Bourbonnais said. An attempt to reach Coleman's attorney was unsuccessful.

Coleman was allowed to continue to the courtroom, and the weapon was taken into evidence, Bourbonnais said.

But deputies do not believe the gun would have fired if the trigger was pulled. Bourbonnais said the 25-caliber semi-automatic pistol was rusted shut and had the wrong bullets inside.

"It worked like it was supposed to," Bourbonnais said of the courthouse security upgrades since the Fulton County case. "It was caught in X-ray just like it was supposed to."

Magistrate Judge Warren Davis said seizure of weapons at the courthouse is "nothing new," but he was glad the deputies were able to step in.

"It's a sage reminder as to why we have professional deputies screening people as they come into the courthouse," he said. "The day you let your guard down is the day you get hurt, so we're glad they are there."