ERIDIAN, Miss., July 8 An
assembly-line worker who had talked openly about shooting people
walked out of an ethics and sensitivity training session at his
factory this morning, returned moments later with a semiautomatic
rifle and a shotgun, and opened fire, killing five co-workers before
fatally shooting himself, the authorities and witnesses
Dozens of workers at the Lockheed Martin aircraft parts
plant ran screaming from the cavernous hilltop building near here as
the gunman, dressed in his usual black T-shirt and camouflage pants,
but now wearing bandoliers full of extra shotgun shells slung across
his chest, suddenly started blasting away at about 9:40 a.m.
the police arrived minutes later, nine people had been wounded, one
critically, in what was the nation's deadliest plant shooting in two
and a half years.
The gunman, identified as Doug Williams, 48, of
Meridian, was an assembler at the factory, which builds parts for
the C-130J Hercules and
vertical stabilizers for F-22 Raptor jets. He had worked there since
Brenda Dubose, who was hit in the face and hand, possibly
by ricochet, had been sitting at one of three tables in an annex of
the factory used for the sensitivity sessions. She said she did not
notice Mr. Williams leave the room. But she did not miss him when he
reappeared in the doorway, a shotgun on his shoulder.
"He was trying to shoot Steve Cobb, the plant manager, and the
production manager, Jack Johns," Ms. Dubose said. Mr. Cobb was
wounded; Mr. Johns was not.
Using an expletive, Mr. Williams barked, "What did I tell you
all" about bothering me, Ms. Dubose said. "And everybody started
hitting the floor, and he was just shooting.
"The bullets hit Micky Fitzgerald in the face," she continued.
"Pellets hit the side of my face. I fell on the floor. I reached my
hand up to feel it he was still shooting people on the other side
of the room and it felt like there was a hole in my forehead, but
there was only cuts and blood, from the pellets or whatever it
"I tried to see about Micky but his face was all shot up. I was
moving around under the tables and he said, `I'm not going to shoot
you, Bren.' "
Besidesthe 12-gauge shotgun Mr. Williams used, the extra shells
and a Mini-14 .223 semiautomatic that he carried but apparently did
not fire, the authorities said Mr. Williams's vehicle was stocked
with a .22 Magnum derringer, a .45-caliber Ruger pistol, a .22 rifle
with a scope and a large amount of ammunition.
others said Mr. Williams, who was white, was known as a racist for
complaining about blacks and talking about shooting them. Four of
those killed were black, and one was white.
One of those killed,
Lynette McCall, 47, a black woman who had worked at the plant for 19
years, had told her husband of several disturbing incidents
involving Mr. Williams, the most recent less than a year
"That's what she told me," said her distraught husband,
Bobby McCall. "He said he was going to come in one day and kill up a
bunch of niggers and then he was going to turn the gun on
Besides Ms. McCall and Mr. Fitzgerald, 45, the dead
were identified as Sam Cockrell, 46, Thomas Willis, 57, and Charlie
Officials said it was not clear that the shooting had
been racially motivated. Sheriff Billy Sollie of Lauderdale County
said it appeared that Mr. Williams had fired at random, and noted
that the wounded included four blacks and five whites. "There was no
indication it involved race or gender as far as his targets were
concerned," the sheriff said.
Other workers described Mr.
Williams as someone with a lit fuse, but whose anger was not
necessarily or only directed at blacks.
"I'm thinking it was
just whoever he was angry at," said Ms. Dubose. "He talked about
`I'll kill somebody.' He talked about it, but I never did think he
would do it."
Jarvis Towner, a co-worker who was not hurt, said
Mr. Williams had made threats for years. "He's one of those people
that if you figured someone was going to, you know what they say
`go postal' it would be him," Mr. Towner said. "He was one of
those kind of people. Most everybody has said that about
Mr. Towner added: "But to say that and really believe it is
two different things."
Dain Hancock, the president of the
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, refused to disclose tonight
whether company officials were aware of problems or complaints about
Mr. Williams involving racism or potential violence. Sheriff Sollie
said he had not yet reviewed Mr. Williams's personnel file. He added
that Mr. Williams appeared to have had no criminal record.
Kuykendall, the president of the machinists' union local, said the
annual ethics class Mr. Williams had been attending covered a range
of subjects in an hour and a half: "Everything from if there was a
problem on the plane you're working on, would you confront your
supervisors, to sexual harassment, to ethnicity," he said. The
training emphasizes "how to get along together and respect each
other," he said.
Janice Jenkins, a senior shop steward, said Mr.
Williams, who was a divorced father of two, had gotten into a
dispute with supervisors at the plant this morning when he and his
girlfriend, Shirley J. Price, arrived and tried to punch in at a
different spot than usual. But his girlfriend complained about the
situation, not Mr. Williams, Ms. Jenkins said.
Ms. Jenkins said
she had just returned to her work area, assembling C-130's, after a
break when she heard "these loud booms" and thought they were
electrical problems from some new wiring being done. Then she heard
screaming and hollering: "Get out! Get out!"
Taking cover behind
the factory's water towers, she helped a man shot in the arm, then
left him when the shooting stopped. "I went around the corner and I
was just, where is the guy, and where is the gun, and they're saying
he's shot himself, he's dead, laying there," she said.
Jenkins went back to try to help the injured, but saw only a
panorama of carnage.
"Horrible," she said. "That's the only word
I can come up with. I can't believe something like this would
Sheriff Sollie said Meridian had been through an
extraordinarily difficult year already. "This year, Lauderdale
County has had two 100-year floods," he said. "You're supposed to
have one of those every 100 years.
"This," he added, "is not
supposed to happen in your lifetime."
Mr. Towner, an assembler of
C-130's, said the plant, which opened in 1969 and had 138 employees
on duty this morning, had always seemed a friendly place. "It's
really close, like a family," he said. "I think that's what makes it
so hard. Even though he did it, he was one of the family. But he
took away part of the family."