A Reno woman picking up paperwork from the Mills B. Lane Justice Center on Monday was among dozens of people detained in the courthouse's adjacent parking garage while authorities searched for a suspected sniper who critically wounded a Reno judge as he stood near a third-floor window.
Kerry Aceves said she had just passed through the metal detectors when she heard a security guard yelled "shots fired."
"When they yelled shots fired, just a mass of people started leaving the building," she said.
Police said Family Court Judge Chuck Weller was shot at least once and possibly four times in the chest about 11:15 a.m.
Aceves said two cars were leaving the garage as she and a few others entered, but once inside, the group learned the garage was in lockdown.
"They wouldn't let anyone in or out," she said.
Authorities are speculating a sniper may have shot though the courthouse window from one of the six levels of the garage at the corner of First and Sierra streets that is across the street to the north.
For the next two hours, Aceves and about seven others sat in their cars on the third floor and watched as SWAT and police officers combed the garage.
Though the shooting's details were not relayed to the group by police officers, Aceves, a sales manager for Reno.com, was kept abreast by co-workers via her cell phone.
Reno.com and the Nevada Appeal are owned by the same company, Swift Communications Inc.
About 1:30 p.m. officials escorted the detainees from the garage on foot.
Aceves said she was told it could be hours before she could recover her vehicle.
"I guess I was entering the building when this happened. But I didn't hear anything," she said. "There's construction going on so you can't really hear anything."
- Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.