It#039;s been ten years

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 28, 2001

One day changed Sanders' life forever

Butler County citizens held their collective breath for six hours, 10 years ago this month.

On Monday, Feb. 11, 1991 at approximately 8:55 a.m. that Mudge Allen Brooks changed both his and Sheriff Joe Sanders lives forever.

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Nearly 100 law enforcement officers from city, county, state and federal agencies rushed to the scene, along with emergency paramedics, firefighters, media personnel from all over the state, and nearly 500 citizens.

Sanders, 58 years old at the time, had been on duty in the courtroom filled with over 100 prospective jurors when Brooks, angry over a long-standing civil lawsuit, burst into the courtroom on the second floor of the courthouse brandishing a .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Sanders stepped toward Brooks, and was able to convince him to let the 100-plus bystanders exit the courtroom.

"I just wanted to get everyone out of the courtroom," Sanders later said. "That's all I wanted to do-I really wasn't trying to be a hero, just doing my job."

When the last citizen was out of the courtroom, Sanders moved toward a side door that led into Judge Arthur Gamble's chambers.

"I pushed the door open and tried to slip in and shut him out, but I didn't make it," Sanders said after the ordeal, from his hospital bed. "I heard the shot, but didn't know that I was hit until I saw the blood."

The one round that Brooks fired penetrated clean through the sheriff's left leg, and lodged deep within the bone of Sanders' right leg.

What took place after that was six long hours of waiting and watching, for citizens, law enforcement officers representing city, county, state and federal agencies, as Sanders lay on a floor in the small office, bleeding from both legs.

Sanders talked to Brooks the entire time, trying repeatedly to convince him to give up, and in the end, despite the hostage negotiating team, it was Sanders that got Brooks to give in.

Ten years later, the Korean War Veteran who served over 25 years of impeccable service in law enforcement is enjoying his retirement with his wife Nelda.

"We've been able to do a little traveling since I retired in November of 1999," Sanders said. "We have been to California, Arizona and Texas."

The lawman said that he has had very little complication with his legs, one of which still has the bullet lodged in it.

"I have a little bit of arthritis every now and then, but other then that, I have no trouble with it," he said.

Sitting on a swing in front of his home, Sanders said he is content now to hunt, and keep a garden.

"The grass is starting to get green again, and I can see that I will soon have to cut it," he said.

Brooks was taken to court, tried and convicted of first degree assault and first degree kidnapping in 1992 in a Montgomery County courtroom, and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

He was released from prison on parole after serving one-third of his sentence.