- The Washington Times - Friday, January 8, 2010

ST. LOUIS (AP) | A disgruntled worker embroiled in a pension dispute with his company showed up at the plant and opened fire Thursday, killing three people and wounding five before apparently killing himself.

The shooting spree at ABB Group’s plant sent frightened co-workers scrambling into closets and to the snow-covered roof for safety.

Fire officials identified the shooter as Timothy Hendron, 51, of Webster Groves, a St. Louis suburb. Police said a man thought to be the gunman was found dead inside the plant from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, but they would not release his name.

“We’re very confident that this is the shooter,” police Chief Dan Isom said at a news conference.

The shooting began at 6:30 a.m. at the plant, where the Swiss-owned company makes electrical transformers. Police spent hours inside the sprawling building searching for the gunman and additional victims.

The motive for the shooting wasn’t known, and Chief Isom said it may be weeks before police pieced together why it happened. But in 2006, Mr. Hendron and other ABB workers sued the company over retirement losses. The federal lawsuit accused ABB and its pension-review committee of causing their 401(k) accounts to include investment options with “unreasonable and excessive” - and undisclosed - fees and expenses.

The suit went to trial Tuesday in Kansas City.

The shooting began during a shift change at the plant, which employs about 270 people. Forty to 50 employees were likely in the building at the time, police Capt. Sam Dotson said.

Two of those killed were found in the parking lot outside the plant, Chief Isom said. One victim and the man thought to be the shooter were found inside, along with an assault rifle, a handgun and a shotgun, he said.

It wasn’t clear how many shots were fired, but authorities said employees scurried to find refuge from the bullets.

Names of the victims were not released. Police said two of the injured were in critical condition, and two were in fair condition. One was treated at a hospital and released.

The shooting occurred on what was already a chaotic day in St. Louis after 4 inches of snow fell, winds whipped to more than 30 mph and the wind chill dipped below zero.

Dozens of emergency vehicles circled the sprawling plant. Interstate 70 was closed for about three miles in both directions for several hours while police searched for the gunman in and around the plant.

ABB Group makes power transmission and industrial automation equipment. The company manufactures transformers at the St. Louis site. ABB has operations in roughly 100 countries, employing about 120,000 people. In October, ABB reported third-quarter earnings of more than $1 billion.

Thomas Schmidt, an ABB corporate spokesman in Zurich, said in a statement, “This is obviously a very serious situation, and we are working to gather more information as it becomes available. The welfare of our employees is of utmost importance to us.”

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