It's our first look at the terror inside an Albuquerque company…
It's our first look at the terror inside an Albuquerque company…
Breathless voices to emergency operators describe the shots …
The woman who police say was the intended target in the Emcore …
The nephew of a gunman who stormed his former workplace and …
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Updated: Tuesday, 13 Jul 2010, 2:03 PM MDT
Published : Monday, 12 Jul 2010, 10:08 AM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - The rapid police response and brave actions of Emcore Corp. employees are being credited with limiting the tragedy as a gunman swept into the Albuquerque business Monday.
Police blamed the shootings that left three dead and four wounded on an ongoing domestic and custody dispute involving Robert Reza, 37, a former Emcore employee, and his ex-girlfriend, who still worked at the manufacturer of fiber optics and photovoltaic products in southeast Albuquerque.
At a news conference Monday evening Albuquerque Police Department Chief Ray Schultz said Reza knew his ex-girlfriends routine and met her on the Emcore campus shortly before 9:30 a.m. He shot her and another person outside the building killing the other person, Schultz said.
The woman, whose name has not been released, is in critical condition at University of New Mexico Hospital, he added.
Police were on the scene and entering the building within minutes of the first 911 call, which apparently drove Reza into an interior room where he shot himself to death, Schultz said. By then he had shot and killed a second person and wounded three others.
At the request of the families none of the victim's names will be released until sometime Tuesday, Schultz said.
During the shooting Emcore employees and delivery people fled the area, some of them taking refuge at Kirtland Air Force base next to the Emcore campus. Other employees helped shepherd colleagues into rooms while some aided the wounded.
"One thing here during the firing is a lot of heroic actions by employees of the building helping wounded employees, helping employees get to safe locations with the building," Schultz said.
The first five officers on the scene formed an active-shooter response team focused on isolating the gunman letting the second wave of officers remove victims from the scene.
"I'm convince what was already a tragedy was kept from being worse," Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry said during the evening news conference.
During the afternoon Albuquerque officers aided by New Mexico State Police, Bernalillo County sheriff's officers and the FBI interviewed more than 220 witnesses who had been transported from the scene to a nearby community center. About 700 people work in three buildings on the Emcore campus.
Investigators talking to witnesses and reviewing surveillance video quickly confirmed Reza was acting alone. He was armed with a handgun and reloaded at least once while firing more than 20 shots, Schultz said.
The only criminal record on Reza shows arrests for drunken driving about 10 years and 7 years ago, the chief added.
Reza apparently had been living in Albuquerque after separating from the girlfriend with whom he had two children. The children were found safe at a resident in Rio Rancho.
Police were waiting on a search warrant before entering his Albuquerque home and were beginning to interview people who knew the couple and might be able to outline the events of the last two weeks.
Schultz said the ex-girlfriend had told friends there was an ongoing domestic-violence situation she was planning to report to law enforcement. The also were issues over the custody of the children, he added.
Crime scene investigators were expected to be processing evidence until at least midnight as they worked inward from the initial shooting outside Emcore's Building 2. Reza's body was still in the building, Schultz said.
Emcore Chief Operating Officer Chris Larocca told reporters Reza had not been able to enter the secure area of the building.
"We haven't dealt with anything of this nature," Larocca said. "We're very proud of our employees. They did a phenomenal job."
Authorities have reduced to three the number of people killed at Emcore Corp. as the chaotic events of Monday morning become clearer.
Albuquerque Police Department Chief Ray Schultz attributed the confusion in part to the first officers to enter the building bypassing victims believed to be dead as they focused on isolating the gunman. The second wave of officers on the scene carried those victims to their patrol cars and took them to waiting ambulances.
At a late-morning news conference Schultz had reported a total of six people dead including the gunman.
According to Schultz, the gunman forced his way into the secure facility shortly before 9:30 a.m. leaving one person dead outside the building and another injured. The gunman was eventually found dead inside the building from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Another victim was reported dead at University of New Mexico Hospital where there was additional confusion as both the emergency room and operating room counted a victim as deceased, Schultz saide.
The gunman, whose name has not been released, was targeting his live-in girlfriend, Shultz said. She is among the injured although her condition is not known, he added.
Four victims were admitted to UNMH where two are reported in guarded condition and two more are described as stable.
said the shooter and his girlfriend had two children who were found safe in Rio Rancho.
"The female target had told other employees she had concerns about domestic violence, and she had told co-workers she planned to report that to law enforcement," Schultz said.
After shooting the woman, the gunman is believed to have targeted a second person, he added. He was armed with at least one handgun, the chief said.
Initial reports identified the gunman as being 37-years-old with a previous domestic-violence complaint outside Albuquerque. Police are waiting on confirmation of his identity but earlier said he was a former Emcore employee.
Schultz gave this account of the early events:
Schultz said the response tactic is based on analysis of recent mass-casualty shootings including the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado.
"You don't wait for specialists," Schultz said. "The first officers go in, and you triage victims later.
"We'd rather have a misidentification of the number of victims than to allow more victims."
With the shooting in progress about 80 Emcore employees fled Building 2, and another 140 were evacuated from a sister building. Seven hundred employees left a third building on their own.
A day care center across the street from Emcore also was evacuated.
Seventy of the escaping workers sought refuge at Kirtland Air Force Base adjacent to the Emcore campus. The Eubank Gate, one of five entrances to the base, will remain closed for the rest of the day, a base spokesperson said.
About 220 workers were transported to the Manzano Mesa Community Center where they were being debriefed by investigators and offered medical attention and grief counseling. The center also has telephones where the workers could call their families since they were not allowed to carry cell phones into their secured work areas.
Because Emcore does government contracting the FBI also is on the scene. FBI agents and APD detectives are reviewing surveillance video from inside Building 2, Schultz said.
An FBI spokesman said agents were assisting APD with witness interviews. There is no indication of a terrorism connection in the shootings, the spokesman said.
Processing the crime scene is expected to be slow as investigators work from the outside in. "There is lots of evidence, lots of shell casings," Schultz said.
Dawn Pappan's husband works at Emcore. He was uninjured, but heard the shooting.
"It's so unexpected," said Pappan. "Monday morning...getting in the groove, and this happened. It's very shocking and very scary. It's too close to home."
Another family member waiting outside the community center said Emcore has tight security and requires employees and visitors to wear badges to get in. The company manufactures fiber-optic and photovoltaic products.
Early reports said there was a second shooter although police later said they were not searching for a second person.
New Mexico State Police and the Bernalillo County Sheriffs Department also responded to the shooting. Police shut down the traffic light at Central Avenue and Eubank Boulevard and are manually directing traffic.
Sandia Laboratories as well as Manzano Mesa Elementary School were on lockdown for most of the day.
Late in the day Emcore released this statement:
"Emcore and our employees are in mourning globally and locally after a tragic shooting at our southeast Albuquerque, NM plant.
"The safety and well-being of Emcore employees is paramount during this terrible tragedy. Emcore representatives are working with federal and local public safety officials to ensure our employees are taken care of in this time of crisis.
"Immediate counseling is available for all employees. We strongly urge our employees to participate to help deal with this tragedy. Emcore will continue to offer counseling to guide employees through the grieving process. It is critical that we take care of the employees, families and victims of this horrendous event. Emcore employees can get updated information on company announcements at the employee hotline: (505) 750-1584.
The Emcore community has experienced a terrible shock, and we will do everything possible for recovery. Our employees come first, and future decisions will be made with their best interest in mind. We will communicate with them as soon as we have more information."
Lt. Gov. Diane Denish also issued a statement:
"My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families of today's terrible tragedy at Emcore," said New Mexico Democratic gubernatorial candidate Diane Denish in a press release. "I have been
constant contact with state law enforcement officials today and I am thankful for the hard work and professionalism of the Albuquerque Police Department and the Mass Causality Response Team as they respond to this horrific situation. As our first responders continue to investigate and do everything they can to help the victims of this tragedy, let us all take a moment to think about those who have lost their lives today."
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