Two bailiffs were shot dead inside a US court yesterday before officers killed the gunman.
The incident occurred in the Berrien County court in St Joseph, south-western Michigan, 100 miles north-east of Chicago.
Sheriff Paul Bailey said he did not know anything about the shooter, why he was in the court or how he got a gun.
A sheriff’s deputy who was also shot was in stable condition at a hospital last night. A fifth person also was injured, although it is unclear how.
“I stand here with a heavy heart. A person has shot two bailiffs. They’re both deceased,” Mr Bailey told reporters.
Other people in the area of the shooting sought shelter before “brave officers were able to come to their rescue and take the shooter down,” the sheriff said.
Barack Obama was yesterday returning to the US from a diplomatic trip to Europe to help comfort an America rattled by a series of shocking shootings and racial unrest.
He will fly to Dallas, the scene of the massacre of five policemen following two shootings of black men by white police officers.
The US president is due to deliver remarks at an interfaith memorial service and is expected to meet victims’ families and local law enforcement officials.
Former president George W Bush, his wife, Laura, and vice-president Joe Biden will also attend, and the ex-president will deliver brief remarks.
In choosing to deliver a high-profile speech, Mr Obama has tasked himself with ministering to Americans as they make sense of a frustrating cloud of issues around the shootings.
As he travelled to Poland and Spain last week for meetings with European leaders, the president was publicly working through his thoughts. At times, he acknowledged “anger” and “confusion”, and at other times he seemed to downplay the enormity of events.
On the shootings by police of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, Mr Obama called for more activism and reforms. And he sought to impress upon white Americans what he said he and other African Americans already know — the problem is real.
On the shootings in Dallas, Mr Obama cast Micah Johnson, the sniper killed in a stand-off with police, as “demented” and his motives as “unknowable”.
People should not believe that “the act of a troubled individual speaks to some larger political statement across the country,” he said. “It doesn’t.”
He also pointed to other forces driving discontent at home and in Europe — lone-wolf terrorism or economic instability wrought by globalisation — and tried to sell his policies aimed at tackling each.
On Sunday, Mr Obama issued a plea for better understanding between police and those taking part in protests across the US.