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Ex-cop killed in West Virginia federal building gun battle

By Annie Moore

BECKLEY, West Virginia (Reuters) - A former police officer armed with an assault rifle opened fire on the Federal Building in Wheeling, West Virginia, on Wednesday, before being shot dead when security officers returned fire, authorities said.

The U.S. Marshals Service said Thomas Piccard of Bridgeport fired more than 20 shots into the building in downtown Wheeling before he was fatally shot through the torso in the return of fire.

U.S. Marshal Alex Neville said the motive for the shooting remained unclear. The FBI is leading an investigation into the incident, with assistance from the State Police.

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register website reported that Piccard was a Wheeling officer for a number of years but resigned from the department in July 2000.

He positioned himself in a parking lot across the street from the Federal Building and opened fire shortly before 3 p.m., the website reported, citing witnesses.

Three security guards at the Federal Building also received minor injuries consistent with breaking glass. They were treated and released from a local hospital, it noted.

(Aditional reporting by Ian Simpson; Writing by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Andre Grenon and Ken Wills)

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