Monday, Jan. 4, 2010 | 9:35 p.m.
Neighbors of the lone gunman who opened fire in the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse Monday said the man was a loner and upset with the government.
Johnny Lee Wicks, 66, was fatally shot outside the courthouse after killing 72-year-old court security officer Stanley Cooper. A deputy marshal also was shot and is recovering at University Medical Center.
Wicks lived at the Sunrise Senior Village complex at 571 N. 30th St., near North Mohave and East Bonanza roads. Some residents described him as quiet and mysterious, but others said he often carried a smile.
Neighbor Sonny Roy said Wicks usually wore a long, black leather coat and kept to himself.
“He gave off that aura that he wanted to be alone,” Roy said. “It doesn’t shock me it was him downtown.”
She said during one conversation with Wicks, he said he had injured his back while working in California and was unhappy with the surgery. She said the conversation led her to believe he also was upset about his disability checks.
Next-door neighbors Vivian and Allen Smith said Wicks was quiet. They called Las Vegas Fire & Rescue after a fire broke out in Wicks' apartment about three hours before the shooting. The fire prompted the evacuation of nearby apartments because of smoke, but no one was injured, firefighters said.
Vivian Smith said she woke up coughing from the smoke that had spread to her apartment. Allen Smith said the thicker smoke was "knee-high" in his apartment.
Monday evening, burnt rugs and ashes were visible in Wicks’ apartment. The walls were burned and blackened from the flames, but there was no damage to the exterior.
“I don’t know if he started the fire as a diversion, but he could have caused us great harm,” Roy said.
Others residents found Wicks to be friendly.
Maria Fischer, a resident at Sunrise Senior Village, said Wicks would say "hello" to her when he walked by.
June Sayers said she’s known Wicks for some time and he always seemed friendly. She said she never heard Wicks criticize the government.
Documents filed in a 2008 federal lawsuit indicate Wicks had been at odds with the federal government for nearly two years.
“He used to come in the senior clubhouse and he didn’t seem like a trouble-maker to me,” Sayers said. “He looked very happy to us every day.”