- Associated Press - Thursday, August 27, 2015

WEST CHESTER, Pa. (AP) - A man fatally shot after attacking a deputy sheriff at a suburban Philadelphia courthouse this week had previously exhibited bizarre behavior that suggested he had mental health issues, a prosecutor said Thursday.

The personal history of Curtis Smith includes climbing a wall at the White House in March that his relative called an attempted “suicide by cop,” a restraining order from his wife and a Facebook photo that alarmed a friend, District Attorney Thomas Hogan said.

Hogan ruled that the deputy sheriff who stepped in and shot Smith on Tuesday was justified in using deadly force after the man yelled an expletive, pulled a knife and slashed at another deputy at the Chester County Justice Center.

“There is no such thing as a ‘good’ shooting because a man has lost his life and it is clear in retrospect there were mental health issues involved,” Hogan said in a statement. “However, the deputy sheriffs fulfilled their duty by protecting themselves and the citizens at the Justice Center.”

The deputy fired three times, wounding Smith, 34, of Coatesville twice in the torso, Hogan said. Smith was conscious immediately after the shooting and was able to tell paramedics his name before dying at a hospital, the prosecutor said.

Friends and family told investigators Smith was deeply religious. He was unemployed at the time of his death and had struggled to stay out of trouble.

Smith was charged with unlawful entry at the White House after authorities say he climbed over the top of a stone wall at a vehicle entrance March 1, despite signs saying it was a restricted area for people with passes and appointment.

Smith surrendered and, according to court documents, told an officer he went to the White House to pass a message to President Barack Obama. A relative said he believed Smith was trying to commit suicide, according to Hogan.

Smith entered into a deferred prosecution agreement requiring him to stay away from the White House complex for six months. The case was to be dismissed in October if he complied with court orders and avoided arrest.

Smith was arrested again in May in Coatesville on charges of burglary, assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. Around that time, his wife obtained a protection from abuse order against him, Hogan said.

Earlier this month, a friend inquired about Smith’s well-being after he posted a photograph on Facebook of himself wearing a blond wig.

At the courthouse Tuesday, the injured deputy, Kevin Brough, was struck in the hand by a gunshot because of his close proximity to Smith, Hogan said. He underwent surgery and is in stable condition.

A ballistic vest spared him from being wounded by Smith’s knife. A photograph released by the prosecutor’s office showed the weapon had a 5-inch handle and 4-inch blade.

Brough said in a statement that he considered the deputy sheriff who shot Smith “a hero for the actions he took and the people he protected.”

Citing county policy, Hogan did not release the name of the deputy who shot Smith.

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