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GRAND MARAIS - "It was a vague possibility before December 15 that something could happen, that somebody could fly off the handle," Cook County Assistant Attorney Molly Hicken said.
Eleven months after her office was left damaged and bloody, Hicken still works in the same room at the same desk.
"It's less difficult now than it was a couple weeks after the shooting," Hicken said.
It all started when a jury found Daniel Schlienz guilty of criminal sexual conduct.
His shooting rampage is still a vivid memory for those in the County Attorney's office.
"He walked into my office and I was on the phone with a witness," Hicken recalled.
Schlienz walked into the office and shot County Attorney Tim Scannell and a subpoenaed witness.
He then followed Scannell into Hicken's office and started a nine minute life-and-death struggle.
"It was a life–changing event and it was like a nightmare come to life," Hicken said.
She was able to knock the first gun away.
However, Schlienz eventually got a hold of a bailiff's gun who had joined in on the fight against him.
A bullet hole next to Hicken's desk reminds her of Schlienz's failed attempts and the fight that seemed to last forever.
"You start to wonder what it's like to die," Hicken said. "You start to, you know, wonder about those things, so it was a fierce desire to live that got us through it."
"Even though I wasn't there, I felt a high degree of responsibility and felt we failed the people in the court," Cook County Sheriff Mark Falk said.
Schlienz was able to take the gun with him into the courtroom.
He got away with it because it was something authorities did not expect in their small community, but now that thought process is changing.
"We all became much more hyper-sensitive," Falk said. "To say it would never happen again, I don't buy it, and I think we need to be proactive and prepare."
Sheriff Falk said he would like to add full-time security at the courthouse along with an x–ray machine and a metal detector.
"It's not just court–related functions that occur there," Falk said.
"We have an obligation to protect them," Hicken said.
While tougher courthouse security is in the works, $37,000 has already been spent for changes to the County Attorney's office, after it became clear they were an easy target.
New, bullet-proof barriers have been constructed and a room has been set aside for witnesses.
In addition to security cameras, Hicken now has a lock from the inside of her door.
If someone enters the office, staff is notified by a doorbell.
"Every time I heard the door open and shut, and I couldn't see who it was there was a feeling of panic," Hicken explained.
However, that panic is slowly fading and each day is a small step forward.
"I think this made us a much stronger community as a whole and just fortunate that nobody died that day," Falk said.
"It brings a new appreciation for life at the same time and it wasn't over after December 15 either," Hicken said. "Everyone involved has been through a recovery process and we'll probably never be the same."