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Thursday, July 10, 2003

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Peers say factory killer went to anger counselor

Associated Press

      MERIDIAN, Miss. Doug Williams sat in a meeting with managers at his factory job, listening to them explain the importance of being honest and responsible in the workplace. Also on the agenda: getting along with co-workers, regardless of their sex or race.
      But at some point during the meeting Williams had heard enough.
      He walked out of the room, telling co-workers, "Y'all can handle this."
      Minutes later, he returned with a shotgun and a rifle. He sprayed the room with shotgun blasts, killing two people, and then continued the rampage on the factory floor, leaving three more co-workers dead before taking his own life.
      "He said, 'I told you about (expletive) with me,' " said co-worker Brenda Dubose, who was in the meeting.
      Williams, a 48-year-old white man, had undergone anger counseling at least once in the past couple of years, frustrated because he thought black people had a leg up in society, co-workers said.
      They said Williams was also angry that he had been passed over for promotions at the Lockheed Martin aircraft parts plant where he had worked for 19 years. Co-workers said he kept "score" on whoever he thought was offending him.
      Fellow employees also described him as a "hothead" who had used racial epithets.
      As recently as three weeks ago, some employees complained that Williams arrived at work wearing a white covering over his head, Sheriff Billy Sollie said. Some employees found the covering offensive because it resembled a Ku Klux Klan outfit.
      Hubert Threatt, a union shop steward who had worked with Williams for 15 years, said other employees had expressed concerns to managers about Williams over the years. Threatt said company counselors came to the plant two years ago to work with Williams.
      Threatt said Williams was generally quiet after the counseling but once told him: "One of these days, they're going to (expletive) me off and I'm going to come here and shoot some people."
      Sollie said investigators were seeking Williams' personnel records and would not comment on any problems Williams may have had at work.
      Threatt was in the main factory building when he saw Williams with a rifle strapped to his back and the shotgun in his hands. He said he pleaded with a Williams not to shoot people.
      "You could see something in his face. He snapped," Threatt said. "He said, 'Get out of my way or I'll kill you, too.' He slung me aside with the gun. He turned away from me and started running."
      In the next minute and a half, Threatt said Williams killed three co-workers at point-blank range on the plant floor.
      Two other co-workers were already dead and others wounded in the annex building where the meeting was held. Nine people were hurt, including Dubose, who was shot in the hand. Several remained hospitalized Wednesday.
      Dubose said 13 employees were in the annex seated around tables when Williams entered and started shooting.
      "All of us just hit the floor," she said. "There was screaming, people falling over."

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