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Date of Issue: July 30, 2008

Suit alleges negligence in shooting

Holmes Beach businessperson Sue Normand recently filed a negligence suit against the man scheduled to soon stand trial for shooting her.

Mark W. Koenigs, 55, of Bradenton Beach faces multiple charges in the Dec. 5, 2007, shooting at the Island Mail & More store that Normand owns.

According to court documents, authorities maintain that Koenigs walked into the store with a package that contained a handgun and shot Normand once in the hip.

Afterward, Koenigs allegedly ran from the store and the parking lot of the Anna Maria Island Centre on East Bay Drive and was apprehended by law enforcement personnel two miles south on the Gulf shore in Bradenton Beach.

A standoff on the beach led to three charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer with a firearm against Koenigs, who was shot three times by Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies. For shooting Normand, Koenigs faces aggravated battery with a firearm. Initially Koenigs was facing an attempted murder charge. The prosecution’s formal complaint against him stated that there was probable cause to believe that the “defendant did shoot the victim with premeditated intent to affect the death of the victim.”

Koenigs was arrested upon his release from Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg and since then has remained in the Manatee County jail awaiting trial, which is scheduled to begin the week of Aug. 4 at the new Manatee County Justice Center in Bradenton.

Normand also was treated at Bayfront Medical Center, then went into a rehabilitation program at a Sarasota facility. She continues her recovery today at home in Holmes Beach and in physical therapy, maneuvering with the aid of a walker and a scooter.

On July 21, Normand’s attorney, Todd R. Stern, filed a lawsuit at the Manatee County courthouse alleging negligent discharge of a firearm.

The suit claims Koenigs, a customer at Island Mail & More with no ill will toward Normand, unintentionally shot Normand and for that she is seeking unspecified damages in excess of $15,000. Normand lacked medical insurance coverage the day she was shot and her bills have escalated beyond $200,000, according to her attorney.

The civil suit reviews some claims already put into the record by law enforcement: Koenigs entered Island Mail & More with a box that he told Normand he wanted to mail. Normand held the box, which contained something that moved around and she told Koenigs he needed additional packing material. Koenigs then opened the box, which contained a handgun.

Normand’s suit claims that Koenigs juggled the gun from the box and it discharged.

Soon after the incident, Normand, in an interview with The Islander, said Koenigs “is somebody who is not in a good mental state. I think he wasn’t in his right mind and, from what I’ve read, he hadn’t been for a long time.

“I think of him as somebody who is mentally ill,” she continued. “I’m surprised that I don’t feel anger or hatred. But don’t get me wrong. I want to see him get the maximum punishment allowable.”

Normand’s attorney said last week, “Their prior relationship had been courteous and cordial. We know now, after the fact, that Mr. Koenigs may have displayed prior signs of delusional conduct, but never with Sue Normand. Obviously, anyone who attempts to mail a handgun, let alone a loaded handgun, may not be entirely lucid.

“However, if Mr. Koenigs truly had the intention of shooting Mrs. Normand, why did he have the handgun sealed up in a box ready for mailing? Why didn’t he have it easily accessible on his person and draw it out of his clothing in order to shoot Sue Normand? Why did he juggle the gun as he attempted to remove it from the box? Why didn’t he shoot her in the chest or face as opposed to the lower abdomen? All of this evidence points to a negligent discharge of the handgun as opposed to an intentional act of shooting Mrs. Normand in order to cause her great bodily harm.”

Stern said either Koenigs did not check to see that the gun was loaded or was under the belief he could ship a loaded handgun.

A hearing to determine the status of the Koenigs’ case was scheduled to take place Monday, July 28, as The Islander went to press.

Already a number of people have received subpoenas for the trial, which will involve public defender Peter Belmont representing Koenigs and assistant state’s attorney Lauren Berns handling the prosecution before Judge Diana Moreland.

Most recently Berns amended a list of possible witnesses to include a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office crime-scene technician. Berns amended a list of possible evidence to include a ballistics report.

The prosecution also anticipates a discussion of Koenigs’ competency during the trial.

In addition to the criminal trial and Normand’s negligence suit, Koenigs is the defendant in several other matters at the county courthouse, including foreclosure proceedings on property he owns in Bradenton and a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge.

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