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Jul 15, 2013 No Comments ›› Spit Stixx

CORPUS CHRISTI — State District Judge Tom Greenwell was found dead from a gunshot wound Monday night in his chambers, Nueces County Sheriff Jim Kaelin confirmed.

Corpus Christi police, medics and Nueces County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded about 7 p.m. to the courthouse after a report that a man was found with a gunshot wound to the head. The courthouse closed at 5 p.m.

It was not clear whether the gun passed through the security checkpoint, which includes a metal detector. . Attorneys, judges, and some media representatives who have courthouse identification badges typically aren’t required to pass through the security checkpoint.

udges who have concealed handgun licenses are allowed to bring registered firearms with them to the courthouse.

Corpus Christi police said the Nueces County Sheriff’s Office would be the lead investigating agency, given it is a county building. Police were relied upon heavily for security and forensics. A police crime scene investigation van and officers were at the courthouse until nearly 10 p.m.

When the call first came in, the response seemed to follow protocol for an active shooter.

But within 30 minutes police left and county workers calmly walked to their cars, saying they had not been ordered to leave the premises and security personnel guarding the building seemed calm when talking to news reporters.

As he oversaw the investigation, Kaelin was not available to answer questions after confirming Greenwell’s identity. It was unknown if a weapon was found, if a note was left or whether foul play was suspected.

At least two lawyers with offices nearby came to find out if the person found shot was Greenwell, a man attorney Rene Flores considered an excellent judge.

“He was the epitome of a good judge, he seemed very calm and peaceful; it’s just really shocking,” Flores said.

He added that Greenwell was scheduled to be on vacation this week, and that he had been gearing up for a big murder trial, the case of Jenna Hernandez, 16, who was killed in Aransas Pass last year. Flores said a cleaning crew member found the man and then was asked to describe him to a court manager, who then told Kaelin she believed it was Greenwell.

Greenwell first was elected judge of the 319th District Court in Nueces County in 2001, becoming the first Republican ever to win a county wide judicial race in Nueces County. He was re-elected in 2006 and ran unopposed in 2010. He was serving his third term.

In November, he lost a bid for the 13th Court of Appeals Judge for Place 2 to attorney Nora Longoria, a Democrat.

Republican judges had been appointed before in Nueces County but Greenwell was the first to be elected, marking a turning point for the Nueces County Republican Party, Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal said. Keep reading