Authorities identify gunman killed in standoff outside courthouse



BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - The gunman who was killed during a standoff outside the Brevard County Courthouse was identified by authorities on Saturday.

The Brevard County Sheriff's Office has identified the suspect as 51-year-old Robert Striffler. Striffler was fatally shot during the standoff that lasted more than two hours.

According to court records, Striffler has a criminal history that includes arrests for driving under the influence, disorderly intoxication, misuse of 911 and resisting an officer.

Sheriff Wayne Ivey said the incident started when deputies received a call from Striffler's sister saying he was armed and heading to the courthouse. When deputies confronted the Striffler in the parking lot, he pulled out a handgun, authorities said.

Striffler spent the next couple of hours walking around with the gun, keeping deputies at bay.

"I got on the ground behind a car. I didn't know what to do. I was scared to death. I was terrified," said witness Denise Lavoie.

"One deputy opened the door and said follow her and she got in front of my car and she said, 'Stay down low all the way through this bank of cars,'" said witness Ruth Holley.

Ivey said that shortly before 1 p.m. deputies attempted to use non-lethal weapons to end the standoff and that Striffler responded in an aggressive manner and deputies shot him.

Video from Skywitness 9 HD showed Striffler double over at one point and then turn and run toward the building.  A short time later, video showed him on the ground and SWAT members walking away.

Ivey said his department has had previous dealings with Striffler and that he had made threats against the courthouse and some judges.

"(The judge) pulled as many of us into his chambers so we could be safe with him back there," said attorney Keith Szachacz, who was in court at the time.

Ivey said Striffler has also made threats to use bombs at the courthouse prior to Friday's incident.

The sheriff said a Palm Bay police negotiator, who happened to be at the courthouse on other business, was aiding his agency as police talked with the man.

"We never want to see these end this way," said Ivey. "There's no doubt we'd like to see it end peacefully and unfortunately this one did not."

Ivey said people in the courthouse were moved to the back of the building or evacuated while SWAT members dealt with the situation.

Viera High and Viera Charter schools were put on lockdown while deputies talked with the gunman.