3 dead, including gunman, in Tennessee factory shooting

ATHENS, Tenn., Sept. 23 (UPI) — A disgruntled worker at a Thomas Betts Corp. factory in Athens, Tenn., opened fire on two of his bosses, killing them before turning the gun on himself, police said.

Ricky Swafford, 45, became angry after a meeting early Thursday and left the electrical component manufacturing plant. He returned with a gun and opened fire on James A. Zotter, 44, and Sandra H. Cooley, 68. They died at the scene.

Swafford was found dead in the bathroom of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Athens Police Chief Charles Ziegler said.

“This is one of those tragedies that we see on TV all the time, it happens everywhere else, it’s never supposed to happen in Athens,” Ziegler said.

The shooting happened about 4:15 p.m. but began unfolding earlier in the day. Police said Stafford burst out of a meeting with his two bosses and left the building. It is unclear what the meeting was about. He returned a short time later with a semi-automatic pistol and “attempted shooting in the front office.” He then moved “deep inside the factory,” in the north and middle of the buildings to find and shoot his supervisors. No other workers were injured.

A nearby school was put on lockdown after the incident. The plant did not have its own security.

“Our loss is profound,” company spokesman Chris Shigas said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families during this difficult time.”


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