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St. Louis plant reopens one week after shootings

Thursday, January 14, 2010 | 4:00 p.m. CST; updated 6:42 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 14, 2010
Company spokesman Bob Fesmire speaks to the media as employees arrive for work at ABB Inc. on Thursday, one week after a disgruntled employee shot and killed three co-workers and injured five others before turning the gun on himself at the plant in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS — Employees of the ABB Inc. plant in St. Louis returned to work Thursday, a week after a co-worker arrived armed with four guns and killed three men and injured five more before killing himself.

It was anything but a normal work day at the plant where the Swiss-owned company makes power transformers for utilities and large users of electricity. Spokesman Bob Fesmire said the day began with an employee meeting, where workers were encouraged to express their feelings. Counselors who have been available to employees since the Jan. 7 shooting were at the site Thursday, as was ABB's North American chief, Enrique Santacana.

"We've moved from the shock phase," Fesmire said. "Everybody's sort of in the grieving phase. Now, I guess you can say we're moving into the recovery phase."

Fesmire spoke to reporters on a street outside of the plant. Members of the media were not allowed access to employees.

Police are still trying to determine the motive behind the shooting spree. The gunman, 51-year-old Timothy Hendron of Webster Groves, was among a small number of ABB workers who sued the company in 2006 over retirement losses. The trial began Jan. 5 and continues in Kansas City.

Police don't know if the victims were targeted or if Hendron shot those in his path. Killed were Cory Wilson, 27, of Collinsville, Ill., Carlton Carter, 57, of St. Louis, and Terry Mabry, 55, of Moscow Mills.

Police initially didn't know if the gunman was still alive, and SWAT teams went in to rescue workers hiding on the snow-covered roof, in closets and in boiler rooms. Police found Hendron's body in an office area, a fanny pack filled with ammunition still around his waist. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

During the rampage, Hendron fired off hundreds of rounds. Fesmire said all the visual damage from the shooting has been repaired, though door locks damaged by SWAT teams must still be replaced.

Three of the five men who were injured have been released from the hospital, Fesmire said. He didn't disclose the conditions of the other two but said they have been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit.

ABB Group, based in Zurich, Switzerland, operates in 100 countries and employs about 120,000 people worldwide, including 11,000 in North America. The St. Louis plant has been in operation 60 years, Fesmire said.

"We are open for business, but obviously it is not business as usual," Fesmire said.

 


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