- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2008

VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) — A man opened fire on workers coming to inspect the apartment his mother had been ordered to leave, killing two and wounding three before committing suicide, authorities said yesterday.

William T. Smith opened the door Wednesday afternoon at the Thalia Gardens complex and began firing an AK-47 assault rifle and a Mac 10 9mm semiautomatic handgun, police spokeswoman Margie Long said. Smith’s mother had been given until the end of the month to leave the apartment but she already had moved to New York, said Michael R. Devine, vice president of the company that manages the apartment complex.

Workers were entering the apartment Wednesday for a routine inspection.

“This was not an eviction. This was a normal, routine operation. It was just like Virginia Tech. It was a normal day and then something went wrong,” Mr. Devine said.

It was not clear whether Smith was living there or just visiting.

Smith, 52, fatally shot Sam Shestul, 63, inside the two-story brick apartment building, Miss Long said. The other workers ran outside but Smith followed them, still shooting, she said.

Officers arrived to find Rebecca Diane Hughes, 32, dead in the parking lot and three wounded persons. Most of the victims had been shot multiple times, Miss Long said.

Police did not release the names of the wounded.

Smith went back inside the building, but police were not certain where he was when they arrived, Miss Long said.

Bob Wesner, a registered nurse, was taking out his garbage at about 4:45 p.m. when he heard six shots. He said he ran into the parking lot, where he saw Mrs. Hughes lying on her right side in a pool of blood with wounds to her head and abdomen. He saw one of the injured maintenance workers stagger around the corner and collapse.

Mr. Wesner said he, like most residents, knew the maintenance staff well. He described Mr. Shestul as an extremely jovial man who had been married for a long time. Mrs. Hughes, he said, “was one of their hardest workers, very conscientious, a very pleasant person.”

Residents and staff said Mr. Shestul had immigrated about 10 years ago, possibly from Russia or Czechoslovakia.

Mrs. Hughes had two children, and her husband is in Korea with the military, a co-worker said.

It wasn’t immediately known when Smith died, but Miss Long said it was clear he killed himself because police fired no shots.

Miss Long said police were checking to see if Smith had permits for the guns. She said she could not comment on whether he had a criminal record.

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