PHILADELPHIA -- Minutes after a woman was suspended from her job at a Kraft Foods Inc. plant and was escorted out, she returned with a handgun and opened fire, killing two people and critically injuring a third before being taken into custody, police said.
The shootings occurred shortly after 8:30 p.m. Thursday inside a
northeast Philadelphia plant where workers for the nation's largest
food manufacturer make cookies and crackers.
As she walked inside, she fired a shot at an employee who had
followed her in and had yelled, "Hide, she's got a gun!" Vanore
said. That shot missed.
The woman then shot the three victims, said police, who didn't
immediately release the victims' identities or say whether they had
been targeted. Officers responded and isolated the shooter in a
room, and she fired a shot at them but missed, Vanore said.
Officers freed seven people who were "in a bad position" near
the woman and were hiding, said Vanore, who wouldn't refer to them
as hostages. The woman was apprehended about an hour after the
shootings started, he said.
Investigators, who didn't say why the woman had been suspended,
were working to piece together more about what led to the sequence
of events. They did not identify her.
Television footage showed workers leaving the plant, which used
to be known as the Nabisco factory and is about six stories tall.
Police surrounded the plant minutes after the shootings, and roads
in the area were detoured as officers swarmed nearby.
Dough mixer Andy Ryan, who has worked at the plant for nearly 30
years, said he was on the third floor when the sound of the shots
echoed through the building.
"I heard the gunfire, and I ran," he told The Associated
Press, his apron still on. "As I was running down the steps they
were yelling, 'Oh, my God, there's three people shot!"'
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that about 100 people were
inside the plant but had been cleared out.
Kraft said in a statement that in addition to the three
employees who were shot, a contract worker suffered a less serious
injury, but it did not elaborate.
"This is a sad day for the Kraft Foods family," the statement
said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families. The loss
of a loved one is a great sorrow."
Kraft said the plant would be closed until further notice and
the company would provide employees with counseling.
The Northfield, Ill.-based company's products include Oreo
cookies, Philadelphia cream cheese and Oscar Mayer bacon.
Mass shootings are rarely carried out by women, said Dr. Park
Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist and president of Threat Assessment
Group Inc., a Newport Beach, Calif.-based violence prevention firm.
But Dietz said that doesn't mean people should discount the
violence potential of women.
"It was always a matter of time until we saw more incidents
involving women," Dietz said in a phone interview with the AP
Nevertheless, of the 10 to 20 multiple-victim workplace
shootings in the U.S. each year, very few involve female shooters,
Dietz said. They remain "a rarity," he added.
Some notable exceptions include a 1985 rampage at a mall in
Springfield, Pa., that left three people dead and seven wounded.
Sylvia Seegrist was found guilty of murder but mentally ill in that
case and was given three life sentences. She said in 1991 she hoped
she wouldn't have to spend the rest of her life in prison and
"maybe 15 or 20 years would be fair."
Earlier this year, Amy Bishop, a former instructor and
researcher at the University of Alabama- Huntsville, was charged
with murder in a February campus shooting spree that left three
biology professors dead and three other employees injured. She
claimed the shootings "didn't happen."
Thursday's shootings came weeks after a driver who had been
accused of stealing from a Manchester, Conn., beer distributorship
shot and killed eight people and then himself.
The driver, Omar Thornton, had calmly agreed to quit on Aug. 3
after being confronted with surveillance video showing him stealing
beer. But shortly afterward, he started shooting.
Thornton, who was black, told police dispatchers he had seethed
with a sense of racial injustice in his job at Hartford
But Hartford Distributors president Ross Hollander said there
was no record to support claims of "racial insensitivity" made
through the company's anti-harassment policy, the union grievance
process or state and federal agencies. Relatives of the victims
also rejected the claims.