Multiple People Shot At West Chester Trucking Company; Suspect Captured


Last updated: 11/6/03 3:34:29 PM

Police have captured the man they believe shot five people Thursday morning at Watkins Motor Lines, a suburban Cincinnati trucking facility, fatally wounding two. Suspect Tom West, 50, who last worked for Watkins Motor Lines in November 2001, was arrested around 12:30 p.m. in New Point, Indiana.

Workers at the Iron Skillet restaurant, off Exit 143 on I-74, said West was eating at the restaurant when he told an employee to call police, saying they were looking for him.

"He was very calm. I sat down with him at the table. He was making several phone calls...Just a normal, everyday person," said the restaurantís general manager.

Restaurant workers said West was "humble" while he waited for police to arrive. He did not tell workers at the Decatur County restaurant what he had done.

Westís van remains outside of the restaurant, surrounded by yellow police tape. It has Nevada license plates and street maps inside.

West was an employee of Watkins Motor Lines from October 1998 through November 2001, at which time Mr. West resigned from his over-the-road driving position in Atlanta, GA. He never worked at the Cincinnati office.

West is now at the Decatur County Jail awaiting a hearing. If West waives extradition, heíll be taken back to West Chester. It is not known what he will be charged with.

Police said West drove past an ungated security post around 9:57 a.m. Thursday, walked into an office at Watkins Motor Lines, 6431 Centre Park Drive, in West Chester, carrying two handguns, and shot five people inside. Police said West then left the shooting scene in white Chevrolet panel van.

Don Haury, 50, of Bellbrook, Ohio, was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting. Bob Lines, 65, of Cincinnati, was pronounced dead at Bethesda North Hospital around 11 a.m., according to Capt. David Kelly of the West Chester Police.

At this point, none of the surviving vicims have life-threatening injuries:

a.. Glen Brierly, 48, of Hamilton, Ohio, sustained inuries to his arm and chest and is still being treated at Bethesda North Hospital.

a.. Gary Fissel, 50, has chest and thumb injuries. Fissel is in danger of losing his thumb and is still being treated at Bethesda North Hospital.

a.. Billy Claywell, of Cave City, Kentucky, received gunshot wounds, but has been treated and released from Mercy Fairfield Hospital.

The victims were all conscious and able to talk with doctors when they were brought in. Their families are in a private waiting room and are constantly updated by doctors and nurses, a hospital administrator said.

As events unfolded, crowds gathered outside the company Thursday morning to check on their friends and loved ones.

"Theyíre pretty good on security here. They usually check before anyone goes inside," said a former employee who worked at the company for three years. "When you hear stuff like this, itís pretty shocking.

The witness said he had come to the trucking company to see if his friends were safe.

"You all have something in common when youíre driving a truck," he said.

"Itís unbelievable. It donít make no sense. My older brother works on the dock and Iím a little worried about him," said George Vonderhaar, who works at the company but wasnít on a shift when the shootings happened. "Iím just out here waiting to see whatís happening."

Vonderhaarís brother, Steve, was unhurt.

Many businesses in the area were locked down Thursday morning while the suspect was on the loose. The Lakota Public Schools also spent the morning under a voluntary lockdown, according to Superintendent Mike Taylor. Taylor said it was "the wise thing to do" since three of the districtís schools are located in a 5- to 10-mile radius of where the shootings occurred.

Crescentville Road is currently shut down at Route 4.

Tom Soward, workplace violence expert, told 9News the shooter was probably highly stressed and "these individuals probably have other storms going on in their lives.

" Soward also said the shooting was probably "very well thought out" and that most workplace shooters "do go looking for a specific set of people."

In addition, approximately 80 percent of workplace shooters commit suicide afterwards," Soward said.

The trucking company is a subsidiary of Watkins Associate Industries of Atlanta, Georgia. Watkins employs 760 employees at the 100,000 square foot West Chester facility.