DRAPER, Utah – A death row inmate was executed by a team of marksmen Friday — the first time in 14 years that Utah used the firing squad to carry out a death sentence.

A barrage of bullets tore into Ronnie Lee Gardner’s chest where a target was pinned over his heart. Two minutes later an ashen Gardner, blood pooling in his dark blue jumpsuit, was pronounced dead at 12:17 a.m.

He was the third man to die by firing squad since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

Unlike Gary Gilmore, who famously uttered the last words “Let’s do it” on Jan. 17, 1977, Gardner could muster few words before a black hood was fastened over his head. Asked if he had anything to say during the two minutes afforded him, Gardner said simply, “I do not, no.”

The five executioners, certified police officers who volunteered for the task and remain anonymous, stood about 25 feet away, behind a wall cut with a gunport, and were armed with matching .30-caliber Winchester rifles. One was loaded with a blank so no one knows who fired the fatal shot. Sandbags stacked behind Gardner’s chair kept the bullets from ricocheting around the cinderblock room.

Utah Department of Corrections Director Thomas Patterson said the countdown cadence went “5-4-3 ” with the shooters starting to fire at the count of 2.

“I don’t agree with what he done or what they done, but I’m relieved he’s free,” said Gardner’s brother, Randy Gardner, after the execution. “He’s had a rough life. He’s been incarcerated and in chains his whole damn life, now he’s free. I’m happy he’s free, just sad the way he went.”

The execution was criticized by death penalty opponents around the world, with the European Union issuing a statement Friday expressing its “profound regret.”

“The fact that Mr. Gardner chose the methodology of his execution in no way mitigates the imposition of death by the state,” the statement said.

Gardner walked willingly to his execution, a stark contrast to the escape attempt he undertook 25 years ago that resulted in his death sentence.

Gardner was sentenced to death after being convicted of murder in 1985 for the fatal courthouse shooting of attorney Michael Burdell during a failed escape attempt. He was at the Salt Lake City court facing a murder charge in the shooting death of a bartender, Melvyn Otterstrom, when he took a gun smuggled in to him and shot Burdell in the face as the attorney hid behind a door.

Burdell’s family opposes the death penalty and asked for Gardner’s life to be spared. But Otterstrom’s family lobbied the parole board against Gardner’s request for clemency and a reduced sentence.

The execution process was set in motion in March when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request from Gardner’s attorney to review the case. On April 23, state court Judge Robin Reese signed a warrant ordering the state to carry out the death sentence.

At that hearing, Gardner politely declared, “I would like the firing squad, please.”

Even though Gardner, 49, chose his manner of death, he also worked furiously with his lawyers to prevent it. They filed petitions with state and federal courts, asked a Utah parole board to commute his sentence to life in prison without parole, and finally unsuccessfully appealed to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gardner’s attorneys argued the jury that sentenced him to death in 1985 heard no mitigating evidence that might have led them to instead impose a life sentence.

Gardner, who once described himself as a “nasty little bugger” with a mean streak, spent his last day sleeping, reading the novel “Divine Justice,” watching the “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy and meeting with his attorneys and a bishop with the Mormon church. A prison spokesman said officers described his mood as relaxed. He had eaten his last requested meal — steak, lobster tail, apple pie, vanilla ice cream and 7UP — two days earlier.

Members of his family gathered outside the prison, some wearing T-shirts displaying his prisoner number, 14873. None witnessed the execution, at Gardner’s request.

“He didn’t want nobody to see him get shot,” Randy Gardner said. “I would have liked to be there for him. I love him to death. He’s my little brother.”