Shootings raise security level
SAFETY CHECK Bo Edwards, an armed security guard, checks a gate at Structural Steel Services Inc. to make sure it's secure. Structural Steel is one of many businesses in Lauderdale County that increased security or revised security policies following the Lockheed Martin shootings. Photo by Kyle Carter / The Meridian Star.
By Penny Randall / staff writer
July 8, 2004
When Eddie Partridge heard a Lockheed Martin employee opened fire on fellow workers a year ago today at the Lauderdale County plant, it triggered memories of a disturbing incident.
Several years earlier, he said, an employee at Structural Steel Services Inc. entered that plant with a loaded gun.
Nevertheless, the Lockheed Martin shootings in which employee Doug Williams injured eight fellow workers, killed six others and took his own life prompted Structural Steel to update safety policies.
At Structural Steel, one of Lauderdale County's largest employers with 260 workers, management also made sure that employees were reassured that the company had strong workplace safety plans.
The scene was similar at other industries and businesses in and around Lauderdale County including Avery Dennison, the Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling Co. and the U.S. Postal Service.
But management at most of the other businesses and industries declined to talk in detail about workplace safety and how the Lockheed Martin shooting affected or led to changes in their plans.
Partridge was the only person willing to talk.
At Riley Hospital in Meridian, officials already had policies in place to better deal with crisis like the Lockheed Martin shootings. Riley treated three of the injured shooting victims.
Boutwell was referring to an emergency disaster drill staged at Naval Air Station Meridian just north of the city. Besides that, the hospital also had its own disaster policy and trained employees to handle a crisis.
Butch Shannon, safety officer at Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center, said he also was pleased with the way his employees handled the crisis.
After the Lockheed Martin shooting, Partridge said he and fellow supervisors at Structural Steel tried to become more aware employees and any signs that might indicate the beginnings of a similar crisis.
Structural Steel, in operation since 1975, also hired a full-time, armed and licensed security guard, as well as upgraded its 24-hour security system.
Although nothing serious has happened, Partridge and others remain constantly aware of employee security and safety.