- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 27, 2000

WAKEFIELD, Mass. (AP) An employee wielding a semi-automatic rifle and a shotgun opened fire at an Internet consulting company yesterday, killing seven co-workers before police subdued him, authorities said.

Prosecutors were investigating whether Michael McDermott, 42, was upset about an Internal Revenue Service request to garnish his wages to pay back taxes, Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said.

She said Edgewater Technology Inc. had agreed not to begin taking money from Mr. McDermott's paycheck until after the holidays.

However, Mr. McDermott had an angry outburst in the company's accounting department last week over the prospect of losing some of his wages, according to an employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Most of the victims four women and three men worked in the accounting department. Miss Coakley said the shootings were apparently not random, since the suspect bypassed several people during the rampage.

Two persons were shot in the reception area and the others were killed at their desks in another wing of the building. Shell casings and bullets were found all over.

"There was an enormous amount of firepower," Miss Coakley said.

She said Mr. McDermott did not have a permit for any of the weapons he was carrying: a semi-automatic rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a pistol. She said he had no prior criminal record.

Police found Mr. McDermott sitting silently in the reception area, a body nearby, his weapons within reach. He was arrested without gunfire.

"They made a split-second decision to hold their fire to try to effect an arrest," said Stephen Doherty, the police chief in this city 10 miles north of Boston.

Mr. McDermott faces seven charges of murder, said John McEvoy, a Middlesex County prosecutor. The arraignment is scheduled for today.

Defense attorney Kevin Reddington, who met with Mr. McDermott, would not comment on his demeanor or a possible motive.

The victims were identified as Jennifer Bragg-Capobianco; Janice Hagerty; Louis Javelle; Rose Manfredy, 49; Paul Marceau; Cheryl Troy; and Craig Wood, 29. All ages and hometowns were not immediately released.

Mr. McDermott was a software tester who had worked at the company since March, said Mike Stanley, a team-projects leader at Edgewater.

He said none of the victims was Mr. McDermott's supervisor.

"He had nothing to do with any of them," Mr. Stanley said, a tear running down his right cheek.

Kevin Forzese, who lived upstairs from Mr. McDermott in Haverhill, said the suspect had never mentioned money problems. He also said Mr. McDermott had mentioned that he collected antique guns, but he had never seen any weapons in the apartment.

"He never talked about the company," Mr. Forzese said. "I talked to him about money and he said he was doing really well."

Edgewater employs approximately 240 people in Massachusetts, said John Cooley, director of investor relations. The company is in the process of moving its headquarters from Fayetteville, Ark., to Wakefield, about 10 miles north of downtown Boston.

The company, which also has offices in Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota and New Hampshire, has undergone several changes in the past few months, but Mr. Cooley said there hadn't been any layoffs and none were planned.

Mr. McDermott came to work as usual yesterday and then opened fire at about 11 a.m., authorities said. The Edgewater headquarters are located in the Harvard Mills office complex, a three-story, red-brick former factory that houses several companies.

Police cruisers surrounded the building after the shooting while dozens of SWAT team members searched for people too afraid to come out or other shooters.

Survivors of the attack were in shock, said the Rev. Tom Powers, who helped with grief counseling at St. Joseph's Church, where about 100 employees, family members and friends gathered after the shooting.

They left sporadically, their faces stained by tears and holding each other for support.

Mr. Powers said there was little he could do: "There's nothing you can do to take the grief away."

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