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Massachusetts Shooting Has Gun-Law Experts BaffledAired December 27, 2000 - 4:01 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with the latest on another baffling episode of office violence; yesterday's shooting spree in Massachusetts. At his arraignment today, 42-year-old Michael McDermott pleaded not guilty to killing seven co-workers in a bloody rampage that lasted several minutes. Authorities say the attack, involving automatic weapons and a shotgun, had been carefully planned.
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TOM O'REILLEY, MIDDLESEX COUNTY ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The evidence we've received so far from witnesses to the scene seem to indicate that Mr. McDermott had an issue with the company concerning garnishment of wages by the Internal Revenue Service that had been ongoing for several weeks.
On this morning, he appeared at work in a normal fashion, was at his desk in a normal fashion, had talked to people about the holidays. And somewhere around 11:10, he came in, he walked by individuals who were working and specifically targeted the individuals we believe he shot.
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WATERS: At this morning's arraignment, McDermott's lawyer said the burly software engineer had been undergoing psychiatric treatment and had been on medication. As we hear now from our Boston Bureau Chief Bill Delaney, yesterday's violence has experts again shaking their heads, and wondering how to prevent terror in the workplace.
BILL DELANEY, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): Where we work, killing is no longer inconceivable. With seven deaths now at Edgewater Technology, at least 35 people have died at the hands of co- workers in the past two years. Yet, security experts say, 85 percent of the time, people like Michael McDermott, the man accused of the killings in Massachusetts, give warning signs.
WILLIAM HAWTHORNE, SECURITY EXPERT: When you see mood swings or hostile reactions to things they didn't used to be hostile about, just having a reporting chain that can tell a supervisor, then the company has to train its supervisors to understand this kind of reporting. And what you do, eventually, is, you get an awareness that raises amongst the employees and supervisors, that there's more monitoring going on of each other.
DELANEY: Perhaps hard to swallow, though, at a firm like Edgewater Technology, which seemed to typify the new laid-back, open workplace tolerance of so many cutting-edge technology firms. More old-line companies tend to be more hard-core.
HAWTHORNE: I'm aware of corporations that are so attentive and so aware, from a security standpoint, that they consider a firing of a person, that they will position some security people, or some large male employees near the office, where he is given the news that he's fired.
DELANEY: Others, though, say the real problem remains: guns; even in Massachusetts, which claims the toughest gun laws in the country.
JERRY BELAIR, COALITION TO STOP HANDGUN VIOLENCE: He did have a license, apparently; a pistol permit in -- that was issued in Rockland, but it had expired. But an oozie, an AK-47, any of the assault weapons can be purchased in Massachusetts with a pistol permit.
DELANEY: What's called a class-A license in Massachusetts allows possession of assault weapons.
DELANEY: Which leaves anyone contemplating the latest incident of workplace violence in a familiar place. In a free society, workplace vigilance can only go so far, and even in a tough state like Massachusetts, guns are likely to remain accessible for the foreseeable future -- Lou.
WATERS: Bill Delaney in Boston.
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