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franklin county times

Families mourn losses after shooting spree

By Staff
HEARING THE NEWS Kathy Spells, left, comforts Melvin Young, a worker at Lockheed Martin in Lauderdale County, moments after Young told Jonathan Willis, center, that his father, Thomas Willis, had been shot and killed by a heavily-armed employee who went on a rampage at the plant. Angela Dixon, a family friend, comforts Willis after he heard the news. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael and Georgia E. Frye / staff writers
July 9, 2003
Bobby McCall gently pulled the covers back. He quietly slipped into bed next to his wife. He was careful not to wake her.
It was 2 a.m. Tuesday, a typical ending to a normal workday for McCall. Or at least it seemed that way. This was the last time he would see his best friend and wife of 21 years.
Nearly eight hours later, at 9:43 a.m., Lynette McCall was shot dead one of five employees at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Facility in Montgomery Industrial Park who were killed by a heavily-armed co-worker.
Other families who lost loved ones dealt with similar feelings Tuesday as they learned the fate of their relatives, some of whom had just arrived at work before they were shot.
And so did the family of Doug Williams, 48, the lone gunman and longtime Lockheed employee who killed his co-workers, seriously injured nine others and then used his 12-gauge shotgun to kill himself.
Rampage begins
Williams began his rampage shortly after 9:30 a.m. when he briefly left an annual business ethics class, which all Lockheed employees are required to attend. He returned, burst through the door and began firing.
Williams carried a 12-gauge shotgun and a .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle when he entered the training trailer connected to the plant. He also wore a bandoleer of shotguns shells draped across his chest.
Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said Williams, a Meridian resident and a 19-year employee of Lockheed, was known by his parents as an "angry man."
Sollie said that Williams entered the plant wearing a black T-shirt and camouflage pants, what co-workers described as his normal work attire.
Among those injured were five white men, two black men and two black women. Those killed included one black woman, three black men and two white men including the shooter.
Families wait
Bobby McCall was one of several family members who lined the street outside the Lockheed entrance. He and others stared up the hill at the plant and waited to learn the fate of their family members.
Some gripped cell phones. Some hugged people they didn't even know. And others voiced outrage over alleged racial motivations of Williams, whom some co-workers described as a racist.
Melvin Young, who is black and a 27-year employee of Lockheed, said he was assembling parts for F-22 Raptor fighter jets when Williams entered the plant and opened fire on employees.
Young escaped the plant without injury.
Young said that Williams didn't say much when he walked in armed and ready to shoot. But Young said the gunman did tell one black female co-worker not to worry.
Deadly arsenal
Authorities worried that the day could have been worse if Williams had used his full arsenal of weapons. Sheriff Sollie said additional firearms were found in Williams' truck parked outside the plant.
There, investigators found a .22-caliber Magnum, a .45-caliber pistol and a .22-caliber rifle with a scope as well as a large amount of ammunition.
At the time of the shooting, 138 employees were at work. Lockheed Martin President Dain Hancock was in Meridian on Tuesday and spoke at a news conference at the Raymond Davis Courthouse Annex.
He declined to answer any questions that pertained to race or Williams' history at the company, including whether the gunman had made possible threats and racial remarks in the past.
Sollie said that Lockheed had no security guard on duty at the time of the shooting. Hancock said he isn't sure if security changes will be made.
Sollie said he has no evidence that the shooting at Lockheed was racially motivated. He said investigators have not yet finished interviewing all of the plant's employees.
But some employees who knew Williams disagreed.
Lockheed employee Melvin Young said that Williams had threatened to kill "black people" in recent months and also claimed he had several white employees that he didn't like.
Killed relative
Young said that Lynette McCall, his cousin, was one of the first employees killed after Williams left the business ethics class where the shooting began. Lynette was in the assembly part of the plant when she was shot.
Hours after the shooting, Young and other employees were released from the plant. Young made his way down the hill to the plant's entrance and quickly found Bobby McCall.
Young told Bobby that his wife was dead.
Bobby sobbed with his daughter, Sanyell, and listened to Young describe the scene. Bobby said he believed that his wife would still be alive if Lockheed management had taken William's past threats seriously.
Bobby said his wife was a wonderful mother and grandmother. They have two children and two grandchildren one of whom spent the Fourth of July with them last week.
They were planning to build a new home in the future to replace their mobile home in Cuba, Ala. Since Bobby worked nights at the Pearl River Resort and Lynette worked days at Lockheed, the two talked a lot by phone.