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Six Dead in Shooting in Lockheed Martin Plant

Aired July 8, 2003 - 19:01   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin, however, with the latest from two towns rocked by deadly violence.
In the south, Meridian, Mississippi, multiple shootings at an aircraft plant. Was race a factor? We're going to try to find out.

And out west, Bakersfield, California, a family found dead and right now police search for an ex-husband who might be involved. These are two top stories. We are expecting press conferences on both of them any moment now. You'll want to stay tuned for that.

We go first, right now, to Meridian, a quiet Mississippi town where earlier today, a man with a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle shot his way through an aircraft plant.

He killed five on the spot, wounded eight others, then turned the gun on himself.

For the latest, we go to Art Harris in Meridian -- Art.

ART HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, it was described as a war zone as 48-year-old Doug Williams went on a rampage through the Lockheed Martin plant in Meridian, Mississippi.

People were jumping for cover. There was blood on people's hands who tried to help each other, deputies told me.

And what we know now is that five people were killed. He then turned the gun on himself. Eight people were wounded. And two remain in critical condition -- Anderson.

COOPER: The alleged gunman, Doug Williams?

HARRIS: I didn't hear you, Anderson.

COOPER: What have you learned about the alleged gunman?

HARRIS: Anderson, what we are told is not much, except his family says they are in shock, distraught.

He was 48 years old. He was described by deputies as a walking arsenal. He had on him a 12 gauge pump action shotgun with an extra magazine. He had a lot of extra ammunition in his pockets. He also was carrying a mini 14, that's a semi automatic rifle. In his pick up truck, they found three other weapons and in his home, the ATF found a lot of ammunition, I'm told, as well as in his pickup truck.

So Anderson, this is someone who was well armed and was not going to be outgunned.

COOPER: All right. Art Harris, live in Meridian.

Now the Lockheed Martin plant is one of the biggest employers in Meridian, Mississippi, and now it is the site of a terrible crime. This is going to have an impact on many in that small community.

Joining us now, Meridian mayor, John Robert Smith.

Mayor Smith, I appreciate you joining us tonight. I know it has been a very busy day for you. How is the community doing?

JOHN ROBERT SMITH, MERIDIAN MAYOR: The community has already begun the healing process. We're a good, strong people, strong faith.

Behind me are people from Meridian, black and white, ministers, men and women of the cloth. They've come together for strength and support for people that are hurting. We have a strong heart, but our heart's wounded tonight.

COOPER: Mayor, there are apparently reports now coming out that this man, this alleged shooter, Doug Williams, was said to be a racist. One of his colleagues was even reported saying that when they first heard about this shooting, this is the person who popped into their mind.

Are police treating this as race somehow involved?

SMITH: That's still under investigation at this time. It would be premature for me to comment about that.

But I can tell you, Meridian will heal. I believe that out of a great tragedy such as this there can be learning and there can be positive lessons for our people. And I believe we have that strength to rebound.

COOPER: All right. Mayor John Robert Smith, appreciate you joining us. I know it's been a tough day for you. I appreciate you taking the time to speak to us.

There is a press conference going on right now in Meridian. We're going to take you to it live.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... currently in critical condition. Those listed as deceased are Mickey Fitzgerald of Little Rock, Mississippi; Sam Cockrell (ph) of Meridian; Lynnette McCall (ph) of Cuba (ph), Alabama; Thomas Willis of Lisbon (ph), Alabama; Charlie Miller of Meridian, and the shooter, Doug Williams, also of Meridian.

Those listed as injured were Delois Bailey (ph) of Bailey Community (ph); Brad Barnum (ph) of Meridian; Al Collier (ph) of Meridian; Brenda Dubose (ph) of Meridian; Chuck McReynolds (ph) of Lauderdale; Henry Odom (ph) of Stonewall; Charles Scott from Meridian; Randy Wright of Bailey, and Steve Cobb of Meridian.

We immediately contacted the state crime lab. They have brought their team in to collect the physical evidence. They're at the Lockheed Martin plant. They'll be working with the Lauderdale County sheriff's department, collecting the evidence to try to determine the actions of the shooter.

We have began the process of interviewing the employees of the Lockheed Martin plant. We have been advised that there were 138 employees working this morning. As you can imagine, that interview process is going to be very lengthy.

The shooter entered the building with what is believed to have been two weapons, one being a 12 gauge shotgun, the other being a mini 14 .223 caliber semiautomatic weapon. At this time, there are no indications that he discharged the .223 rifle. All wounds appear to have been suffered utilizing the .12 gauge shotgun.

Again, the state crime lab is processing the crime scene itself. Our investigators are working on interviewing those victims that we can, as well as those persons who witnessed or saw or heard something.

The bureau of ATF has came over and assisted us in searching the residence where the individual lived. They found nothing of interest that caused them to retrieve any items from the house.

We have been told that there were additional weapons taken from the vehicle of the shooter at the scene. I believe that consisted of a .22 caliber magnum Deringer, a P-91 .45 caliber Ruger (ph) pistol, a .22 caliber rifle with a scope. There were also additional large quantity of ammunition in the vehicle.

COOPER: You're listening to a press conference taking place right now in Meridian, Mississippi. As we said, this has been a day of fast moving events.


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