(Albion (Indiana) New Era – Page 1 – March 1, 1995)
By David Speakman
Gilbert Franklin Black, Kendallville, almost succeeded in a courtroom gun suicide attempt Tuesday afternoon in Noble County Circuit Court. He was at a sentencing hearing.
Black, 53, had been convicted at an earlier hearing for sexual battery on an 11-year-old girl. He appeared in court for sentencing before Judge Robert C. Probst.
The child and her family were present at the hearing.
According to an aunt of the girl, Probst announced Black would serve three years in prison – the maximum sentence for his conviction.
According to witnesses, Black stood up after the sentence was announced and was asked to await transport by police to the jail.
The aunt said she saw Black’s attorney, Richard Thonert lung as Black pushing him.
Then onlookers could see that Black had removed a small caliber handgun from beneath his jacket and placed it under his chin.
He pulled the trigger while his attorney tried to stop the action, witnesses said.
A single shot was heard throughout the building.
“After the gunshot, the girl’s mother ran from the courtroom,” said the aunt.
A witness at the scene saw the mother and various family members run from the courthouse and exit the east side of the building.
Employees at the county clerk’s office heard a female voice shout, “Call an ambulance, he’s shot himself,” then heard another voice say, “No, don’t. He deserves to die.”
Black was released fro McCray Hospital after treatment of superficial injuries around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday into county police custody to be transported to the Indiana State Penitentiary.
“I’m glad he didn’t die,” the aunt said, expressing further that he deserved to be behind bars.
“He can rape a little girls,” she said, “but can’t face three years in jail.”
Black was transported by EMS to McCray Memorial after an original Trip to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne via Samaritan helicopter was aborted as unnecessary.
Town, county and state law enforcement officers responded tot he call of gunfire in the courthouse.
Ii is not against the law in Indiana to carry a firearm into a courtroom, providing the carrier has a permit, according to Bruce Bryant, administrative assistant for the Indiana State Police Firearms Section in Indianapolis.
lack could be charged, however, with contempt of court, violations of discharging a weapon within town or county property, criminal recklessness and other crimes related to the firearm discharge.
As recently as their Monday regular meeting, Noble County Commissioners have been discussing courthouse security measures.
Noble County Prosecutor David Lauer said the three county judges expressed continuing concern for the prevention of firearms in the courthouse.
“It doesn’t matter how many deputies are in the building or how quickly officers respond,” Lauer said. “By the time shots are fired, it’s too late.”