ADDS TULSA TO NEWSPAPER NAME - Law enforcement personnel investigate after a sheriff's deputy and others were shot at the County Courthouse Wednesday, March 7, 2012 in Tulsa, Okla. A sheriff's deputy and two other people were wounded Wednesday afternoon during an exchange of gunfire outside a courthouse plaza in Tulsa, police said.(AP Photo/Tulsa World, John Clanton) TV OUT; TULSA OUT
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Authorities were investigating Thursday whether the suspected gunman in a shootout near a Tulsa courthouse was trying to commit "suicide by cop" when he drew fire from sheriff's deputies, and they confirmed his brother was shot and killed in 2005 by police officers seeking to question him in a murder case.
Investigators said they still didn't know exactly why Andrew Joseph Dennehy fired a handgun into the air Wednesday afternoon in a crowded plaza outside Tulsa County District Court. Dennehy, a sheriff's deputy and a bystander were wounded in the shootout.
"Clearly 'suicide by cop' may enter into it," Tulsa police spokesman Jason Willingham said. "Anytime someone goes to a location where you know law enforcement is going to be present and takes out a weapon and fires shots, you have to know you're going to garner attention."
Dennehy's brother Brian Dennehy was shot and killed in August 2005 after investigators said he fired at an officer in the parking lot of a Tulsa apartment complex, Willingham said. Police said then that he was suspected in the beating death of his grandfather, Bernard Dennehy, in Oklahoma City.
Andrew Dennehy, 23, remained in critical condition Thursday at a Tulsa hospital, Willingham said. Police have said he is technically in custody but hasn't been formally charged with a crime.
Authorities identified the wounded deputy as David Fortenberry and the bystander who was shot as Ricardo Manuel, 28. Willingham said both had non-life threatening injuries, but their medical conditions weren't immediately known on Thursday. According to sheriff's office, Fortenberry was shot in both hands and arms.
In the case of Dennehy's brother, Brian, Tulsa police had received a request from Oklahoma City investigators for help in finding a homicide suspect who may have been in Tulsa. An officer found the vehicle of the suspect, identified as Brian Dennehy, and was approaching it when a man who was lying down in the back seat pointed a revolver and shot at the officer.
The officer returned fire, hitting Brian Dennehy twice in the upper torso and once in the head. He died at the scene.
As for Andrew Dennehy, who would have been a teenager when his brother was killed, investigators "may never know why he did what he did," Willingham said.
With brisk winds and unseasonably warm temperatures, it didn't seem too odd that Andrew Dennehy, shoeless and clad in a short-sleeve shirt and short pants, had sauntered onto the plaza between the courthouse and the Tulsa Central Library.
A wedding had ended on the plaza, and about seven family members were still gathered when shots rang out, said Angela Reudelhuber, 36, who ministered the wedding.