Sun, Jul 04, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Five die in Kansas meat factory shooting spree

REUTERS , KANSAS CITY, KANSAS

An employee walked into a meat-processing plant in Kansas on Friday and opened fire with handguns, shooting four other workers to death and then killing himself, local police said.

The shooting took place at a plant in Kansas City, Kansas, operated by ConAgra Foods, one of the largest US food and agribusiness companies. The identities of the gunman and victims were not immediately released. Three other people were injured, one of them critically, and taken to local hospitals, police said.

Police said the shootings happened about 5pm. The motive for the killings had not been determined. But the Kansas City Star newspaper said plant workers recognized the shooter as someone who had worked at the plant, been laid off and recently brought back.

The dead were men ages 46, 45, 49, 21 and 23, according to Police Colonel Sam Breshears. Police would not say which of the five dead was believed to be the shooter. The man who was critically wounded was 55 years old. Two other men, aged 44 and 60, were in stable condition.

Breshears said police believed most of the shooting took place in the cafeteria and break room of the 24-hour meat processing plant. About 160 people were in the facility at the time, he said.

ConAgra said in a statement from its Omaha, Nebraska, headquarters that it was cooperating with the police investigation. The company expressed sympathy for the families of the victims.

Company spokesman Bob McKeon said the plant employed about 500 people processing meat products into deli meat slices.

The deaths were the latest in a string of workplace shootings in the US in recent years.

In August last year, Salvador Tapia returned to the Windy City Core Supply warehouse in Chicago where he was fired six months before and killed six former co-workers. Tapia was shot and killed in a gun battle with police.

A month earlier, a Lockheed Martin Aeronautics worker in Meridian, Mississippi, left a company ethics seminar, retrieved a rifle and shotgun and returned to work, killing six co-workers before committing suicide.

In February last year, Emanuel Burl Patterson allegedly opened fire at a temporary employment service in Alabama, killing four fellow job-seekers.

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