Department of Health employee described as a "disgruntled
worker" shot two of his Jacksonville supervisors then turned
the gun on himself at a Riverside Avenue office building
yesterday morning, police said.
Philip Thoma, 43, and Don Steiner, 50, were shot at least
two times each at their office building at 1045 Riverside
Ave., said Frank Mackesy, director of operations with the
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Both were taken to Shands Jacksonville and listed in
critical condition yesterday afternoon.
Wayne L. Horowitz, 52, was found dead inside the building
shortly after 9 a.m., from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,
police said. Some of Horowitz's neighbors in his Orange Park
subdivision described him as friendly and outgoing and
expressed shock that he was involved.
But Mackesy said Horowitz "was unhappy and felt like people
working with him didn't like him."
The three men were among 15 employees of the Department of
Health's Radiation Control Division, a regulatory division
that checks X-ray machines and other radiological equipment
used at Northeast Florida hospitals.
Horowitz entered the division's second-floor office and
told Steiner that he wanted to talk with Thoma. He had a seat
in Thoma's office, then shot him multiple times, Mackesy said.
"He didn't say anything, he
just stood up and shot him," Mackesy said.
victim at 1045 Riverside Ave., is loaded into a
transporter to be taken to Shands Jacksonville.
CLICK PHOTO TO
As Horowitz was leaving Thoma's office he ran into Steiner
and shot him also, before turning the gun on himself, Mackesy
Sheriff Nat Glover said three officers responded to the
multiple shooting about 8:55 a.m.
Scott Chomic, who works at 1000 Riverside Drive, said two
women were upset when they came running into his office and
told him two people had been shot.
Jeff Goldhagen, director of the Duval County Health
Department said representatives from the state Department of
Health were closing the office at least through the weekend.
"Everybody is devastated," Goldhagen said.
Grief counselors with the American Red Cross of Northeast
Florida and the health department were at the scene meeting
with employees, who Goldhagen said will be on administrative
leave until the office reopens. About 150 people in the area
were receiving help, said Christian Smith, spokeswoman with
the Red Cross.
Agwunobi, secretary of the Florida Department of Health,
declined to discuss the case except to extend support and
concern to all the families involved.
Sheriff Nat Glover and JSO officers and detectives at
the Riverside Building shooting scene, just prior to
talking to the media.
Horowitz's family declined to comment.
In the neighborhood where Horowitz lived, 15 miles from the
Riverside office, friends and neighbors described him as
happily married and outgoing and said they had never seen him
Even as the word "seemed" crept into their descriptions of
Horowitz, they said it was impossible to imagine, even in
retrospect, that he would have opened fire on others or take
his own life.
"He seemed to have the perfect marriage; It seemed like
they had everything going in the right direction," said Chris
Williams, who lived next door to Horowitz. "He was very
friendly, very nice. I wouldn't even imagine him having a
Horowitz lived with his wife, Linda, in a single-story
brick house with a fresh-clipped lawn on the 200 block of
Vanderford Road West. Property records show they purchased the
home in 1987.
The couple had four children, all grown, and seven
grandchildren, whom neighbors said Horowitz often talked
Horowitz took his job with the state agency after retiring
from the Navy in the early 1990s. He also opened a photo
studio in his home, fulfilling a life-long dream, according to
a biography posted on the studio's Web site.
Family members of Thoma and Steiner were at Shands
yesterday afternoon and requested that they not be bothered by
Staff writers Binyamin Appelbaum, Matt Galnor, Tia
Mitchell, Dana Treen and Greg Walsh contributed to this
Staff writer Veronica Chapin can be reached at (904)
359-4161 or vchapinjacksonville.com.