Phoenix Federal Courthouse Shooter Identified, Family Disarmed Mentally Ill Man

James kept repeating, "I'm going home today."

James Lee Carr [Photo courtesy Maricopa County Sheriff's Office]

Court documents have revealed the identity of the suspect accused of shooting a court officer outside a downtown Phoenix courthouse Tuesday morning.

The criminal complaint details the series of events and the erratic behavior of the shooter, James Lee Carr, on Tuesday.

Carr’s neighbor told FBI agents that Carr was “an alcoholic,” who “smokes marijuana, and has mental health issues,” according to the indictment. Carr’s son described him as having mental health issues.

Carr’s behavior, as he headed out that day, appears to be that of someone contemplating suicide.

“According to Barry Morris, who lives in an apartment near the Target Residence, at approximately 8:00 AM, James visited Barry to borrow cigarettes,” the FBI agent wrote. “Barry told law enforcement that Barry and James have been friends for approximately eight years. Barry felt that James appeared to be in a very good mood on the morning of September 15. At approximately 10:00 AM, Barry went to James’ apartment. At that time, James appeared to be very angry and agitated. James kept repeating, “I’m going home today.” Barry thought James meant he was going to kill himself. James went inside his apartment and shut the door. Shortly thereafter, James came out of his apartment dressed in a suit and holding a rifle and a revolver. James got in his silver Cadillac that was parked in front of his apartment and drove away.”

Numerous reports indicate that Carr believed he would be losing his Section 8 housing in the near future.

After the shooting, Carr did express regret for his actions. According to the indictment, “he told his brother Lonnie that he wanted to die because he shot the security guard. Lonnie’s statements were later confirmed by Buford (Carr’s son) and Donna (Carr’s ex-wife) during their interviews with law enforcement.”

The indictment reads in its entirety:

On or about September 15, 2020, in the District of Arizona, Defendant JAMES LEE CARR did knowingly use, carry, brandish, and discharge a firearm, during and in relation to a crime of violence, and did knowingly possess, brandish, and discharge a firearm, in furtherance of a crime of violence, that is Assault of a Federal Officer Using a Dangerous or Deadly Weapon, as alleged in Count 1, a felony crime prosecutable in a Court of the United States.

On Tuesday, September 15, 2020, a federal court security officer (hereinafter, “Victim 1”), who is a contractor deputized by the United States Marshals Service while on duty, was working at the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Courthouse located at 401 West Washington Street, Phoenix, Arizona. Victim 1 was engaged in the performance of his official duties as enumerated in 18 U.S.C. § 1114 as an officer of the United States government.

FBI learned from interviewing Victim 1 that, on the morning of September 15, 2020, Victim 1 was conducting a security sweep of a UPS truck at the guardhouse on the north side of the Federal Courthouse prior to allowing the truck entry to the courthouse facility. Victim 1 heard someone say “hey.” When Victim 1 looked up, Victim 1 observed a black male wearing a full-brimmed hat, driving a silver Cadillac sedan westbound on Washington Street on the north side of the courthouse. At that point, the driver opened fire with a handgun from the vehicle, firing approximately three rounds and striking Victim 1 with at least one round on the right side of his chest area. Victim 1 was wearing body armor and .a uniform identifying him as a federal court security officer. FBI’s Evidence Recovery Team later observed two spots on the parked UPS vehicle shuck by bullets. Victim 1 returned fire, shooting approximately eight rounds back at the subject. Following the return of gunfire, the silver Cadillac sedan continued westbound on Washington Street, fleeing the scene.

FBI obtained surveillance video footage from the exterior cameras at the Federal Courthouse. Law enforcement reviewed the video footage and was able to observe a silver Cadillac near the guardhouse of the Federal Courthouse on Washington Street at approximately 11:31 AM.

On September 15, 2020 James Lee Carr (hereafter, “James”) called his brother Lonnie Carr (hereafter; “Lonnie”). FBI learned the following information from interviewing Lonnie. James told Lonnie that he shot at a security guard on Washington Street and 7th Avenue. Lonnie told FBI that, at approximately 11:30 AM, he contacted Buford Carr; James Carr’s son, and Donna Gonzalez, James Carr’s ex-wife. Lonnie told them James had told him that he shot a security guard and was sitting in Verde Park. Lonnie further stated that James indicated he wanted ·to die because he shot the security guard. Lonnie’s statements were later confirmed by Buford and Donna during their interviews with law enforcement.

FBI learned the following information from interviews of Buford and Donna. After receiving the calls from Lonnie Buford and Donna went to look for James. They drove Buford’s silver Volkswagen Passat. Buford and Donna said they arrived at Verde Park and observed James sitting in the park. James was wearing a full suit, dress shoes, and a fedora hat. Next to James was a revolver and a rifle. According to Buford, as Buford and Donna approached James, James told them, “Tell people not to fuck with me.”

Buford moved the firearms away from James. Donna told law enforcement that she took the firearms and placed the rifle in the trunk of Buford’s vehicle, and the handgun under the driver’s side seat cushion of Buford’s vehicle. According to Buford, James told Buford he snapped and shot a security guard at 7th Avenue and Washington because the security guard was harassing him. Buford indicated that James had mental health issues and thought it was out of the ordinary that James was wearing a full suit.

At approximately 1:12 PM, Donna contacted 911 and advised that James was at Verde Park. Officers arrived at Verde Park near 9th Street and Van Buren and took James into custody. The arresting officer heard James mutter something about blowing something up. After James was taken into custody, a law enforcement officer was testing James’ left hand for potential gunshot residue when James stated, “That’s not the hand I shot with.”

Officers observed a silver Cadillac Deville sedan matching the description of the vehicle provided by Victim 1 parked at Verde Park. Out of an abundance of caution, officers secured the Volkswagen Passat and the silver Cadillac sedan, and waited for bomb technicians to clear the silver Cadillac sedan.

FBI checked Arizona Motor Vehicles Division’s database and pulled James’ Arizona driver’s license information. James’ driver’s license information listed James’ most-current address as 8845 N. 23rd Avenue, Apartment 109, Phoenix, Arizona. According to Arizona Motor Vehicles Division records, a Cadillac sedan is registered to James at that residence.

After James was taken into custody by law enforcement officers, agents and Task Force Officers of the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force conducted interviews of James’ neighbors who provided the following information:

According to Barry Morris, who lives in an apartment near the Target Residence, at approximately 8:00 AM, James visited Barry to borrow cigarettes. Barry told law enforcement that Barry and James have been friends for approximately eight years. Barry felt that James appeared to be in a very good mood on the morning of September 15. At approximately 10:00 AM, Barry went to James’ apartment. At that time, James appeared to be very angry and agitated. James kept repeating, “I’m going home today.” Barry thought James meant he was going to kill himself. James went inside his apartment and shut the door. Shortly thereafter, James came out of his apartment dressed in a suit and holding a rifle and a revolver. James got in his silver Cadillac that was parked in front of his apartment and drove away. Barry’s girlfriend, Lovie Kellie, was with Barry during his encounters with James.

Jerrie Olds lives in the apartment above James, and told law enforcement that James is an alcoholic, smokes marijuana, and has mental health issues. Jerrie saw James leave his apartment at approximately 11:00 AM on September 15.

Carr has been charged with assault on a federal officer in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 111(a)(l) and (b) (Assault on a Federal Officer Using a Dangerous or Deadly Weapon), and 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(l)(A) (Discharging a Firearm During and in Relation to Crime of Violence.

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