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Six months after Minnesota courthouse shooting, attorneys will run together in Duluth half-marathon

Tim Scannell and Molly Hicken were a team on Dec. 15 when they and their courtroom bailiff saved each others' lives by disarming a man who forced his way into the Cook County Attorney's office in Grand Marais and shot Scannell three times.

Tim Scannell
Tim Scannell

Tim Scannell and Molly Hicken were a team on Dec. 15 when they and their courtroom bailiff saved each others' lives by disarming a man who forced his way into the Cook County Attorney's office in Grand Marais and shot Scannell three times.

Cook County Attorney Scannell and Assistant County Attorney Hicken will be a team again today when they run the 13.1-mile Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon along Lake Superior's North Shore from the Clearwater Grille to Canal Park.

The duo and about 25 friends and family members are making up "Tim's Team." They'll be wearing blue T-shirts with lettering that reads Tim's Team. In smaller print they also say "Cook County" and "12/15/11" -- the day both Scannell and Hicken are working to recover from.

Minutes after Daniel Schlienz was convicted of criminal sexual conduct that day, he went to Scannell's office with a loaded handgun. Schlienz shot and wounded Gregory Thompson of Grand Marais, a witness subpoenaed to testify in the trial, and then went for Scannell. The county attorney was shot once in the chest below his heart and twice in the right thigh.

Hicken, 33, was on the phone calling 911 when she heard the shots and she saw Scannell stumble backward into her office seeking refuge. They attempted to close the door but Schlienz forced his way in, she said. The three of them tumbled into a heap with bailiff Gary Radloff coming to their aid.

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Hicken said Scannell was able to get Schlienz's gun and throw it across the office. She said Schlienz then grabbed the bailiff's gun and the gun went off twice, shooting two holes in her office walls.

"I was biting him in the arm, trying to pry his fingers back," Hicken said. "My right hand was on the butt of the gun and my left hand on the barrel of the gun. Kind of bracing it to the floor and I was biting his arm and trying to pry his fingers back."

She said that with Radloff's help she was able to get the gun out of the shooter's hands and throw it off the courthouse balcony.

Responding Cook County sheriff's deputies used a Taser on Schlienz several times and eventually were able to subdue him. He was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree premeditated murder. He died 12 days later of a rare bacterial disorder while being held in the St. Louis County Jail.

Hicken said it was a horrible, nightmarish traumatic experience and she is feeling the effects of post-traumatic stress that may never go away. But running, she said, "makes me feel better by leaps and bounds -- mentally, emotionally and physically."

Members of the Cook County Sheriff's Office, a county social worker, IT technicians, soil and water employees, a court reporter and a paralegal have entered today's race in support of her boss, she said.

Tim's Team was formed "so that a community-unifying positive experience can result from the tragedy that happened in Cook County," Hicken said. "To make good from bad. To support Tim."

She will be joined by her parents, Mary and Jeff, in running the half marathon.

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Scannell, 46, said he's running today for mental and physical health. Among family members running with him is his son, Kieran, who was the most valuable runner on the cross country team at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire last season and is captain of next season's team.

Tim Scannell says training for today's half-marathon has led to a weight loss and has made him feel "much better." When asked what he expects to be the highlight of the day, he said: "Just running." He's thinking of maybe breaking two hours.

Hicken said she has always felt close to her boss, but the shooting brought them closer.

"It's a two-attorney office and we rely a lot on each other," she said. "It's my first job as an attorney. He's been my mentor and taught me everything I know."

Hicken had worked about 60 hours helping Scannell prosecute Schlienz the week of the shooting.

"When Dan Schlienz attacked Tim, our relationship was very strong because we had been working side by side to convict him. ... So when Schlienz attacked Tim maybe one reason I reacted the way I did is because I thought he was attacking me at the same time. I think that's one thing that made us both react the way that we did. Tim continued to struggle to get the gun. I think he did that to protect me and protect Gary. And I was fighting Schlienz to protect not only my own life, but Tim's. We are a team. And Gary is our bailiff. Maybe it's something about being in a small community with a small group of professionals. We get that bond. I'd say we have a stronger bond now."

Molly Hicken

Related Topics: COOK COUNTYCRIME
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