3 dead in workplace shooting in New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.—A gunman angry about a child custody dispute with his girlfriend shot her Monday after a confrontation outside the New Mexico manufacturing plant where she works, then forced his way inside and killed two employees before turning the gun on himself.
Police identified the shooter as Robert Reza, 37, who had addresses in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque.
Four others were wounded in a rampage police said was motivated by Reza's disgust over a domestic violence dispute involving the girlfriend, who remained in critical condition Monday night. Police Chief Ray Schultz said investigators recovered a single handgun but it appeared Reza fired 20 to 25 bullets, reloading once.
Three of the wounded were in stable condition Monday night at University of New Mexico Hospital, while the fourth was treated and released, hospital spokesman Billy Sparks said. He wouldn't disclose the discharged patient's name or gender.
Schultz said no names other than Reza's would be released before Tuesday.
Reza confronted the girlfriend outside the Albuquerque fiber optics and solar manufacturing plant, and his rampage continued inside, Schultz said. It was unknown if the others who were shot had been targeted by Reza, he said.
"He acted alone," Schultz said. "His primary target was his girlfriend at the facility. He knew her routine and confronted her outside the business."
The woman was hospitalized in critical condition with gunshot wounds. Schultz said she had told co-workers she planned to report domestic violence to authorities.
Schultz said the only criminal background discovered for Reza were drunken driving arrests in 2003 and 2000. The chief said there was at least one previous domestic violence call involving the gunman outside Albuquerque.
It wasn't known how Reza got past security at Emcore Corp., but police said he was a former Emcore employee. Reza went through the building firing shots at several employees and leaving behind a gruesome scene of blood and shell casings across the company headquarters.
Responding officers had to step past several victims -- one dead and several wounded -- as they raced into the building to stop the gunman. Mayhem unfolded as Reza opened fire, sending employees fleeing for cover as police locked down the entire neighborhood.
"This is the worst nightmare you can think of," Schultz said. "No one wants to have a situation like this occur in their community."
Schultz initially told reporters six people were dead, but authorities later revised the count to say only three were fatally wounded.
He said the gunman and his girlfriend had children who live in Rio Rancho and said they were taken into custody by "another agency."
Schultz called the Emcore campus a "very secure facility" and said it appeared the gunman forced his way into the building before entering several areas. Schultz said detectives and FBI agents were reviewing surveillance video.
"It's a large and complex shooting scene," he said.
He said more than 220 people were transported by bus from Emcore buildings to a community center, where detectives interviewed them. Employees also were offered grief counseling and treatment for asthma or diabetic conditions.
Emcore manufactures components that allow voice, video and data transmission over fiber-optic lines. They also make solar power systems for satellite and ground-based systems, and Schultz said the company deals with numerous federal contracts.
Based in Albuquerque, the company has about 700 full-time employees.
Of the 5,071 workplace fatalities nationwide in 2008, 517 were homicides, or about 10 percent of all workplace fatalities, according to U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.
The department reported the 2008 numbers represent an 18 percent drop in workplace homicides from 2007 and a 52 percent drop from 1994, when 1,080 workplace homicides occurred.
Associated Press writers Bob Christie and Amanda Lee Myers in Phoenix contributed to this report.