FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) — A South Florida man faced a bond court judge Wednesday in Fort Lauderdale charged with carrying a concealed firearm, falsely impersonating a police officer and armed trespassing.
Francois Brown, 39, was arrested Tuesday at the Broward County South Regional Courthouse in Hollywood after he was caught trying to bring a gun and more than a hundred bullets into the building.
“Luckily another potential tragedy was averted,” said Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
Sheriff Lamberti thanked security officers at the courthouse for stopping Brown. Brown was at the courthouse to appear at a hearing in a case against him for driving with a suspended license.
Surveillance video shows Brown putting a black backpack through the X-Ray machine. Deputies say the gun and ammunition, along with more than $6,000 in cash were inside the bag.
“There’s no telling what he had in his mind, but with this much ammunition this wasn’t just for personal protection,” said Sheriff Lamberti.
Detectives say when security officers asked Brown if he is a police officer; he said yes hoping that would convince them to let him through. A few minutes later though, detectives say Brown gave them the real story.
“He made mention of a countdown that was counting down to some unknown bad thing. I asked him if he planned on shooting people in the courthouse, he said he didn’t plan on it but if directed to he would have done it,” recalled Detective Meghan Brooks.
Brown’s sister told detectives he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Last year Brown was honorably discharged from the Army. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Detectives chose to arrest Brown instead of taking him for a mental evaluation.
“He admits that he knew what he was doing was wrong and it was time for him to go to jail at that point,” said Detective Brooks.
Brown is locked up on $75,000 bond.
This is not the first incident involving a gun at a Broward Courthouse this year. In January a man went through an exit door at a Broward County courthouse with a loaded gun. He only surrendered after a judge talked him out of using the weapon. Sheriff Lamberti says these incidents show why he needs more funding for courthouse security in Broward County. Funding which he says the County Commission has so far, denied.