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Guard Killed by Man Who Turned Gun on Himself in Federal Court House

By  Julia Bottles Murray Weiss and Anton K. Nilsson | August 21, 2015 6:01pm | Updated on August 24, 2015 8:46am

 A 68-year-old man shot a security guard in the head 201 Varick St. before he killed himself.
A 68-year-old man shot a security guard in the head 201 Varick St. before he killed himself.
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Anton Nilsson

SOHO — A security guard at a federal immigration court building was fatally shot in the head by a man who then turned the gun on himself Friday evening, officials said.

Military veteran Kevin Downing, 68, entered the courthouse at 201 Varick St., near West Houston Street, at 5:05 p.m., sources said.

He walked up to the security checkpoint and shot 52-year-old building security guard Idrissa Camara in the head with a handgun for no apparent reason, sources said.

Then Downing passed through the checkpoint. When he encountered another federal employee at the courthouse, he put the gun to his own head and pulled the trigger, sources said.

Downing was pronounced dead at the scene, sources said.

Camara, who was taken to Lenox Hill Healthplex in critical condition, died at the hospital, a source said.

Camara “cared deeply about his job and knew that building better than anyone else," said a spokesman for his employer FJC Security Services.

“Camara was scheduled to complete his day at 4:00 PM, but agreed to stay on for extra duty," the spokesman added. "That speaks volumes about the person he was."

Investigators found two ID cards on Downing: One for the New York Athletic Club and the other from the VA.

Investigators were not looking for other suspects, and the building had been declared secure, NYPD said.

It was not immediately clear what motivated the shooting, which is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the NYPD. A warrant had been issued to search Downing's home in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

The NYPD did not initially believe the attack was linked to any terrorist activity.

A security guard stationed at 200 Varick St. directly across from the courthouse said he heard the commotion after shots were fired. "Police were yelling 'Get off the street! Get away from glass doors! There's an active shooter!'" said Fernandez Mackie, 55.

"Cops just came and made me shut down the store," said Mahesh Patel, owner of a 206 Newsstand Corp. which is across the street from the courthouse. "I stayed inside...I wasn't scared! I'm never scared."

"We are heartbroken that one of our own has fallen," said Hector Figuroa, president of 32BJ SEIU, Camara's union, in a statement released Friday evening. "We hope some of our questions in the face of this terrible tragedy will be answered."

— With reporting by Antoaneta Roussi.