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Police release report on shooting at ABB

ABB shooting scene, January 7, 2010
(Bill Greenblatt/UPI)
A St. Louis police officer leaves the scene of the Jan 7th shooting at ABB

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – St. Louis police say the employee who went on a shooting rampage at transformer manufacturer ABB in January may have targeted at least one of his victims.

That was just one of the findings from the 10-month investigation, which the department released Wednesday. Timothy Hendron, a 51-year-old employee at the plant, shot and killed three people, and wounded five more, before turning the gun on himself.

Dispatchers got the first call of shots fired at the ABB plant, at the corner of Union and Interstate 70, around 6:35 a.m. January 7th. The first officers who responded saw vehicles being struck by gunfire, said homicide commander Capt. Michael Sack. One of the three victims, Carlton Carter, 57, was killed while trying to flee the scene in his vehicle. A second man was injured.

Two other employees were assisting Terry Mabry, who had been wounded earlier, when Hendron came around the building with his rifle and opened fire. One of those other employees, Stephen Sharp, went to his vehicle and got a handgun, and returned fire, Sack said. All six shots missed, and Sharp was critically wounded. Hendron then fired at Mabry from point-blank range.

Sack said the evidence shows Hendron may have targeted the third fatality, Cory Wilson, who was found dead in a storage area where he had been hiding with another co-worker.

"The fact that so many rounds were fired in that east annex building at the office where Corey Wilson was, he was Hendron's supervisor, that's where he initially went in," Sack said.

Investigators, Sack added, would like to have been able to answer why. He said Hendron had been demoted when the second shift he supervised was canceled, and was not reinstated. Hendron was also involved with a pension-related lawsuit and may have been nervous about testifying.

"Unfortunately, the investigators were not able to come up with that answer, for the families or for us," Sack said. "Mr. Hendron left no notes, he confided in no one as to what he was about to do or why."

But Sack said the investigation revealed that Hendron had planned the attack. Two of the four guns he used - the AK-47 and a pump-action shotgun - were purchased the day before. He fired about 115 rounds in total.

"The level of violence that was brought to bear at a workplace was the most shocking part," Sack said. "We've worked 116 homicide scenes this year. Everyone's a tragedy for all the families of the victims. But this one extended over a long period of time, he was armed with a number of weapons."

Sack said the cold, snowy weather made it tougher for law enforcement responding from other areas of the city to reach the scene, but he said officers entered the building within 15 minutes of getting a call about shots fired. More than 300 city officers worked on the case at some point from the first response until the end of the investigation, he said, and 146 federal, state and county law enforcement officials responded as well.

The department responded "very well from start to finish," said chief Dan Isom. But a preliminary review of the response showed areas of concern, including a lack of secure radio channels. Many of the officers had not been trained to respond properly to an active shooter.

"And then the final thing are equipment needs," Isom said "Our officers didn't have breaching tools; they didn't have sufficient weapon systems to engage a person with an AK-47."

All officers now have active shooter training, Isom said, and the department is looking at ways to afford the necessary equipment for all cars. He said the proper equipment likely would not have changed the outcome.