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story image 1 J.D. Johnson/The Daily Mississippian
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie addresses the public during a press conference in Meridian Wednesday. Major Ward Calhoun stands behind him holding the actual weapon Doug Williams, 48, used to kill several of his coworkers and himself Tuesday.

Lockheed Martin gunman fired at close range

by Laura Houston
DM Editor
July 10, 2003

MERIDIAN -- Lockheed Martin plant gunman Doug Williams, 48, of Meridian, reportedly fired with intent at his coworkers, killing five and himself while wounding nine others before 9:43 a.m. Tuesday, law enforcement said.

Williams leveled his .12 gauge shotgun on his victims while raising it to spare other plant workers, Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said in reference to eyewitness accounts Wednesday.

"All are indicating that the discharging of the weapon was at close range," Sollie said.

Lockheed Martin officials did not sufficiently address employee complaints about the behavior of plant gunman Doug Williams, 48, of Meridian, Sollie said.

Sollie said Williams did not cooperate with many coworkers "both black and white."

J.D. Johnson/The Daily Mississippian
A single bouquet of gerber daisies lies outside the entrance to the Lockheed Martin plant in Marion where Tuesday's shooting left six people dead including the gunman. The shooting spree lasted around 10 minutes. Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said Williams had been monitored at work for more than a year.

"They (Lockheed Martin) expressed to us that they have been monitoring Doug Williams for about a year," Sollie said at a press conference.

About half of the Marion plant's 138 workers have been interviewed, and Lauderdale County Sheriff Department has collaborated with the FBI, Mississippi crime lab and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to collect evidence.

"Right now, we have not been able to determine his affiliation with any hate group," Sollie said. "The ATF did search his home...and are examining his computer hard drive."

It has been speculated that racial hostility motivated Williams, a plant assembly line worker who had been with the company for 19 years, when he picked his victims. Of the 15 Lockheed Martin employees shot, seven victims were black and eight white and were either on the plant floor or at a business ethics and diversity meeting, which Williams left shortly before the shooting rampage began.

Four black and two white employees, including Williams, were fatally wounded, and it was reported that one white employee died when he stood between a bullet and plant Manager Steve Cobb, who sustained minor injuries and needed no hospitalization, Sollie said.

Cobb headed the mandatory meeting Williams attended.

"It's my understanding that he was not happy about going, but he was told he needed to go," Sollie said.

J.D. Johnson/The Daily Mississippian
This .12-guage Winchester shotgun with an extended-tube pump was the only weapon that inflicted injury Tuesday at the Lockheed Martin plant in Meridian, according to Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie.

After reporting to the mandatory meeting, Williams walked out and returned to the training room with a .12 gauge pump shotgun and a semi-automatic rifle. He fired the shotgun at and struck nine of the 13 workers at the meeting, killing two, before stepping onto the plant floor and shooting six assembly line workers. The shooting spree lasted approximately 10 minutes.

Employees who died included Mickey Fitzgerald, 45, of Little Rock, Miss.; Sam Cockrell, 46, of Meridian; Lanette McCall, 47, of Cuba, Ala.; Thomas Willis, 57, of Lisman, Ala.; the Rev. Charlie Miller, 58, of Meridian and Williams.

Charles Scott, 54, of Stonewall, and DeLois Bailey, 53, of Bailey, were wounded and listed under critical condition.

Both weapons were found on Williams' body after authorities secured the area, Sollie said. Lauderdale County officers presented the rifle and blood-stained shotgun to the public Wednesday.

In addition to what he carried through the factory, which has no internal cameras to Sollie's knowledge, Williams' silver Dodge pick-up truck contained three unconcealed guns, including a Derringer and a rifle with a scope.

Former Lockheed Martin employee Ed Kelly, 50, of Meridian, said the event sets the state back.

"This sets us back because we're trying to straighten out things about Mississippi, and it sets us back. Everybody hates it. Hate crimes, whatever, people are dead," Kelly said.

There is no set time for the plant to reopen, Sollie said.

"Employees will be notified about when to return to work," he said.

Lauderdale County officers have not found previous criminal records.

"We have been told of no dismissal or rehiring," Sollie said.

Community rebuilding

Before tragedy struck Meridian Tuesday morning, the local United Blood Services ran out of blood. After 10:30 a.m., the tide began to turn back.

Meridian's office usually receives about 220 units of blood throughout July, Communications Director Bob Murray said, but since about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Murray estimated that approximately 450 people donated blood.

"We had actually gone on an emergency appeal on Monday that we were out of blood. We've had to take blood from Alabama and Mississippi," Murray said. "One hundred ninety blood products have been distributed so far to three hospitals."

Support was called in from Hattiesburg and Jackson to meet the growing crowds of altruistic Meridian residents, who used the facility and two buses.

Appointments are scheduled today and Friday. Despite the influx, there is still a need, Murray said.

"It's still not enough to get us replenished," he said.

 end of article dingbat

Lockheed Martin gunman fired at close range
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