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Employee commits suicide inside Alabama federal courthouse

By Verna Gates

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (Reuters) - A longtime employee of the federal courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama, fatally shot himself in the head with a handgun inside the building on Thursday, an official of the U.S. Marshals Service said.

David Lee Williams, the 50-year-old director of building services for the Hugo L. Black U.S. Federal Courthouse, killed himself in the clerk's office on the first floor of the building, officials said.

No one else was threatened or hurt, said Sergeant Johnny Williams, spokesman for the Birmingham Police Department and of no relation to the deceased man.

David Williams had access to the employee entrance, which does not require metal-detector screenings. It was believed that is how he managed to bring a gun into the building, officials said.

"The courthouse is undergoing renovation in front," said Jill Ellis, administrative officer for the U.S. Marshals Service for the Northern District of Alabama.

"In order to cut down on people coming in through the screening area, we allowed employees to come in through a separate entrance," she said.

Williams was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead from the single gunshot on Thursday morning.

Birmingham police are investigating the shooting. It was not yet known what prompted Williams to take his life or why he did so at the courthouse, Ellis said.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and David Brunnstrom)

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