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Several Wounded in Illinois Plant Shooting; One Confirmed Dead

Aired February 5, 2001 - 12:01 p.m. ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: To give you the live broadcast we're getting now WBBM, our affiliate in Chicago, on that shooting in Melrose Park.

KRIS HABERMEHL, WBBM REPORTER: ... to get inside. The plant is on North Avenue in Melrose Park, right at the corner of North Avenue and Manheim Road. Gunfire, as you mentioned, erupted inside this plant just before 10:00 a.m. this morning. The shooting reportedly centered on the office-end of the facility. That's where we are at right now.

Now, reports have listed three people shot: two victims of the gunman, a third the gunman himself -- possibly, as you mentioned taken to Loyola Medical Center -- the other two gentlemen taken to Gottlieb. The first word is the unidentified shooter entered the plant with at least one handgun, perhaps two, opened fire on the two people, then turned the gun on himself. We're waiting for confirmation of that information from the police.

Understandably, they are very, very busy right now trying to sort out all of the information and process the crime scene right now. You can tell that they have secured the area. They are not moving around nearly with as much dutiful purpose as they did when they first arrived just after 10:00 this morning. They went inside. Plant officials, along with the police department, kept all employees back out of harm's way as much as they could. They had to secure the area before the emergency medical people would be allowed inside.

The ambulances and the fire trucks were staged out on Armitage, which runs along the north side of the building, really at the back of the plant, away from the front entrance there, back behind the production facility near the offices. We do not know how many people may have been affected by this, if there was anybody else who may have been hurt. But we do know that they have now secured the third-level ambulance box, which means they have turned loose all of the additional emergency medical personnel.

So they do not believe that there are any other victims to be found. So it looks as though -- at least, preliminarily -- the number here will hold at three.

Over Melrose Park, I'm Kris Habermehl, CBS 2 Chicago -- Linda, back to you. UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: Kris, before we let you go and let you continue working on this, do we have any indication at this point as to whether or not the gunman who entered the Navistar plant was somebody who worked there or knew the people inside? What do we know about the gunman?

HABERMEHL: Very, very little, Linda, if anything at all. The gunman unidentified, of course, at this hour -- no names have been released. The gunman did have access to this part of the building, so we don't know offhand whether or not this is a secure-access area in the back or whether he was able to get in here somehow, whether or not he was a current or a former employee, and what a possible motive may be.

All of those are questions still that remain at this hour. The police are going through trying to ask witnesses what they may have seen, what they may have heard. And, of course, they have that individual already at the hospital. So it is not a question of anybody being on the loose or still wanted in connection with this shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: All right, Kris, stay with us.

We want to join now a viewer who is on the phone: Peter Jankovics. He works for Environetics furniture. He was in the plant when the shootings occurred.

Please tell us where you were, what you saw, what you heard, Peter.

PETER JANKOVICS, ENVIRONETICS EMPLOYEE: OK. I was in the office section. The shooting took place on the other end of the plant: in engineering. I just heard from someone who has a plant radio that four people were shot by this gunman -- one shot in the face -- and that then the gunman turned the gun on himself, killed himself.

He was a former employee that was caught stealing engines out of the plant about two years ago. He spent three months in jail and lost his pension because of it. So that might be why he was in here shooting people.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: Now, Peter, a lot of this is -- we have not been able to confirm as of yet. Where did you get that information? Who told you this was the case?

JANKOVICS: One of the managers who has a plant radio. They are all talking to each other on these radios. And he said that the man had an AK-47, not a shotgun and a pistol. So, as you might expect, there's a lot of rumors flying around.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: Certainly. What we have confirmed is that one person was killed, that confirmation coming from Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, an official there -- another person, a 45-year-old man, taken to the hospital for treatment. And, as we are hearing, Peter Jankovics -- who was in the building at the time, but quite far away from where the shooting actually took place -- correct? JANKOVICS: Yes. I didn't even hear shots.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: You didn't hear even shots.


UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: What did you do when your hearing this from the person who had the radio? What was going on in the building at the time even where you were, which was up in the office area?

JANKOVICS: The police aren't (INAUDIBLE) anybody in at this time. And when I heard this, the ambulances had left already. And the police just have this as a crime scene. The whole building is a crime scene right now. They have no idea where this man was...


JANKOVICS: So they're searching up the whole buildings with dogs.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: Peter, are you still in the building? Where are you now?

JANKOVICS: I'm at the southeast corner of the building out in the parking lot.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: So everybody has been evacuated from the building?


UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: All right. And, so to go back, then, what time were you hearing this over the radio?


UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: When did you hear the reports that somebody had come into the building with an AK-47?

JANKOVICS: Oh, that was just a few minutes ago that they gave us a little more information. All the people are talking amongst themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: And give us a sense of what people were saying when that was coming across the radio. What were people doing? What were they saying? How were they reacting?

JANKOVICS: A lot of people are shocked. They are -- you know, they seem to have known this man. And this -- it's a lot of emotion, I guess, you know, about -- a couple of them were back in that section and were just glad to have gotten out of there before this guy turned the gun on them. So (INAUDIBLE) go back in. Their keys are back in there and stuff. So they're kind of stuck.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: Peter, if you wouldn't mind just staying on the line with us just for a few minutes now, we've got a spokesman for Navistar on the phone. I believe it is Roy Wyley.

Have I have got the name correct, sir?


UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: Can you tell me, what can you confirm for us? What happened?

WYLEY: Well, Navistar is the parent company of International Truck and Engine Corporation. And at our Melrose Park plant, we make midrange diesel engines for our own trucks and diesel engines for school buses sold under the International brand. We employ approximately 1,400 people at that facility. As I say, it is an engine-manufacturing plant. And it is also our green diesel technology center.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: What happened this morning, sir?

WYLEY: We had a shooting. I have no information as to the number of victims.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: You have -- you had a shooting.

WYLEY: At the plant.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: At the plant. The gentleman we just spoke to, who was in the building at the time, said that the gunman -- the alleged gunman -- was a former employee. Can you confirm that for us?

WYLEY: No, I can't.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: What other information can you confirm for us? We have a report from Gottlieb Memorial Hospital that one person, a 45-year-old man was killed. Another was taken there for treatment. Can you confirm that?

WYLEY: No, I can't. I'm sorry, but I have no concrete information as to actual events that occurred out at Melrose Park.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: Are you at that plant, sir?

WYLEY: No, I'm not. I'm in downtown Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: You are in downtown Chicago. So this is a plant, it's about 15 miles outside of Chicago.


UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: A plant that employs -- there are about 1,400 people within this building.

WYLEY: That is correct.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: The building is currently shut down, is it? Evacuated? WYLEY: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: All right, when do you expect to get some more information that you may be able to pass along to us?

WYLEY: As soon as we have some concrete information from the police department.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: All right, Mr. Wyley, thank you for your time. I know you are very busy. We'll get back to you.

WYLEY: Thank you. Have a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) day.


Again, we're just getting this news wire that Angie Hatfield of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital said that a 48-year-old man was pronounced dead on arrival, a 45-year-old man undergoing emergency surgery. You can see an ambulance leaving there now.

But Kris Habermehl was with as a few seconds ago. He's now providing this picture to us. As he said, he did not believe that there was anybody still within the building itself: no other victims, from what he could gather.

And Peter Jankovics, who was in the building at the time, you are still on the line with us.


UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: Again, tell us how you learned this, what was happening and who you heard this from.

JANKOVICS: I'm not sure who the gentleman is, but he's the man with the radio. He's talking, you know, to other people in the area. And that's the current rumor. As I first heard it, it was two people, and now it's up to four. There is no concrete information on that as far as, you know -- I can't confirm whether that's true or not.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: Sure, and the Navistar official would not confirm any of that, in fact. But what you had heard -- again, this is unconfirmed, but this is from Peter Jankovics, who was in the building at the time of the shooting -- what you heard was a gunman entered carrying an AK-47. And what else did you hear, Peter.

JANKOVICS: Yes, that he shot four people, one in the face, and turned the gun on himself.


JANKOVICS: That he shot four people, one in the face, and then turned the gun on himself, killed himself. That's -- they don't even know how many of the four, you know, if one of those are dead or not. You know, they do know that -- the rumor, anyway, is the gunman is dead.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: And you had also heard, again unconfirmed, that the gunman was a former employee of the firm.

JANKOVICS: Yes, that's also the rumor.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: All right, Peter Jankovics, want to let you know that we are also receiving word from the...

HARRIS: We want to advise you that what we are doing here is we are listening in to the coverage being provided by our affiliate in Chicago, WBBM, of this breaking news story we have coming this morning from Melrose Park, Illinois.

The story here, as you see the picture there outside the Navistar International plant in Melrose Park, there was a shooting incident inside of the engineering department of this particular plant. We understand at first -- the Associated Press is reporting that three people were shot. We're now hearing reports from people who were inside the plant that maybe four people were shot. One man is reported to be dead on arrival at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. We do also -- we also have heard this morning that the shooter has turned the gun on himself, and we do not know if he is the one who is dead or not. So we are still trying to follow this story and we'll continue to listen to our coverage from WBBM.


HABERMEHL: ... home here in Melrose Park. The first indications that we had was that, around 10:00 this morning, a gunman somehow entered the building and, as you can tell from this shot here, was on just one part of a very, very large-scale structure, the Navistar plant here on North Avenue in Melrose Park, some 2 million square feet of manufacturing facility. You can see the manufacturing part on the upper right-hand corner of your screen.

We're actually on the northwest corner of the building looking toward the southeast, and that is where all the activity is being centered right now. We have emergency medical personnel, some which have left the scene. They've secured the scene, according to the fire department. They are bringing back a couple of ambulances here to stand by. I believe that is only precautionary because of the crisis type of situation that we did have here earlier this afternoon -- or actually earlier this morning, pardon me.

There are so many employees in this building that if they do not have immediate knowledge of it, will certainly be talking about this. And this is a very, very critical thing that any kind of an employer would want to talk over with their employees, the traumatic stress of having to go through something like this and the realization that, finally, an incident like this has actually taken place in your workplace, not to mention those people who may have known the victims in today's shooting.

The numbers have not been confirmed. There have been unconfirmed reports of as many as four or as little as three individuals that were affected by this: a gunman and at least two victims. We're still awaiting word from the police department, and also Navistar officials, on how many victims may have been shot here and in what condition they may be. We do know that the majority were taken to Gottlieb Memorial Hospital nearby here, just up the street; also Loyola Medical Center, supposedly in receipt of one. That is the preliminary word that we are getting.

They have closed off the building. They have removed all of the employees out here. And of course the police department, in a situation like this, they have to go through the building and examine every nook and cranny because they have to make sure that this is not part of a larger scheme on the part of this individual.

Remember, they do not know a motive here. They do not know if he was working with somebody else inside the plant, and if there may have been anything else planted in the actual plant, or if there are any traces of evidence left behind. This is an active crime scene. They're in the very early stages of going through and conducting their investigation. So step by step, they have to make sure that everybody is safe. That's primary, a primary concern.

They got all of the employees out, the victims taken to the hospital. Then they have to go through, reconstruct what has happened inside this morning. And they also have to secure any possible physical evidence that the gunman may have left behind in order to build this case here and make sure that this scene is documented properly, not to mention there could be greater scope to this. There is no word that -- no indications preliminarily that there is, but they have to take every precaution and act on every possible end of what could have happened here. They have to look into every possible angle of what may have caused this gunman to let loose in the Navistar plant here in Melrose Park this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: And, Kris, as the Navistar spokesman told us, there are about 14,000 people who are employed at this plant. They make diesel engines. It's a manufacturing plant for diesel engines. Of 1,400 people working there, I'm guessing that some of those people, because the building has been evacuated, some of those people would be the workers who we're seeing in that shot who are just standing around, no doubt waiting for word, as the rest of us are, as to exactly what has happened here.

If you're just tuning in, we are over the Navistar plant in Melrose Park where apparently a gunman entered the building around 10:00 this morning through an entrance that you're -- that's just coming into your screen there -- came into the building. We had one report that he was carrying a handgun, another report from somebody who was inside the billing saying he was carrying an AK-47.

The person who was in the building, who we spoke to just a short time ago, said that he had heard, again unconfirmed, that this was a former employee who had been fired for stealing an engine or an engine part -- again, this is unconfirmed -- but who then shot at least two, maybe three people, and then turned the gun on himself.

The only official kind of confirmation we have -- we have nothing confirmed by Navistar other than to say that a shooting did occur. But from Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, a spokeswoman there has confirmed that a 48-year-old man was dead on arrival, a 45- year-old man is being treated there. And we are led to believe, again unconfirmed, by anyone at Loyola Medical Center that there is somebody who was taken there.

Again, Kris Habermehl over the scene. This is a plant -- a Navistar engine plant. It's about 15 miles outside of Chicago, Navistar based downtown Chicago. But, again, the Navistar official would confirm basically nothing other than a shooting incident occurred.

You can see the media starting to gather around there at the gate into this huge complex, Kris Habermehl. We are not seeing much in the way of emergency activity around the exterior there, around the perimeter.

Let's get on the phone right now, Angie Hatfield, who is an official with Gottlieb Memorial Hospital at Melrose park.

Ms. Hatfield, what can you confirm for us at this point?

ANGIE HATFIELD, GOTTLIEB MEMORIAL HOSPITAL: We had two people brought in around 10:30. One was pronounced DOA. He's a 48-year-old male.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: That's dead on arrival, a 48-year-old male.

HATFIELD: Right. The other was taken to emergency surgery. He had a single gunshot wound to his abdomen. He's in critical condition, and he's a 45-year-old male. We have another victim on the way, and two others were taken to Loyola.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: All right, so let me just go back through then. A 45 -- 48-year-old man confirmed dead on arrival.


UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: A 45-year-old man, who has already undergone surgery for a single gun shot wound to the abdomen, is that right?

HATFIELD: He's currently in surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: He's currently in surgery in critical condition. Then you are expecting one other person, are you?

HATFIELD: Exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: What do you know about their condition?

HATFIELD: We don't know anything yet.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: So you don't know what to expect.

HATFIELD: Exactly.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: And then you say that there were two other people who were injured.

HATFIELD: Exactly. And they've been taken to Loyola.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: You don't know their conditions either.

HATFIELD: I do not.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: Were told any other information when you heard that these victims were being brought in?



HATFIELD: Nothing else.

UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: All right, Angie Hatfield, I know it's a busy time for you. We'll let you go, but we'll be back in touch with you if anything should change or we get any more information.


UNIDENTIFIED WBBM ANCHOR: All right, so from what we can gather now at this point: one person dead, one person shot and killed at the Navistar shooting out in Melrose Park; a 45-year-old in critical condition undergoing surgery right now for a single gunshot to the abdomen. Gottlieb Memorial is expecting one more person. They don't know in what condition that person will arrive there. And then there are two other people who have been injured. Again, we don't know what condition they might be in. They are being taken to the hospital, presumably Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, although we're not sure about that.

Again, if you're just tuning into us...

HARRIS: Our thanks to our Chicago affiliate WBBM there for the coverage this morning of the breaking story from Melrose Park, Illinois.

Now the total there at that Navistar National plant, we understand the total is four injured now and two -- in two different hospital. We have also a report this morning of one man, also, of being dead on arrival at the hospital. The word that we've gotten is that this shooting incident happened at the engineering office in this plant, Navistar International, and that the gunman then went -- after shooting four people, apparently, also shot himself.

We'll continue to follow this story and bring you the developments as they break. Stay with us.



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