A workplace shooting in Roanoke, Virginia, has claimed the lives of two people, including the gunman, and injured three others. The shooting was committed at FreightCar America, a manufacturer of railcars, for which the shooter had previously worked.
The Roanoke gunman has been identified as 53-year-old Getachew Fekede, a Kenyan national who came to the U.S. in 2011 as part of a refugee immigration program. According to the police chief of Roanoke, Tim Jones, via the Associated Press, Fekede did at one time work for the Roanoke company, but was fired in March after failing to report to work for three consecutive days. Jones added that the Kenyan immigrant was working in the United States legally and had a reputation as a “hard worker.” WJHL reports that, according to officials, Fekede had no communication with FreightCar America’s Roanoke facility after he was fired.
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Authorities say that Fekede rode a bicycle to FreightCar America, located near downtown Roanoke, and gained entrance to the facility’s paint shop. The first call of shots fired was received by Roanoke police at 6:02 a.m. Jones said that by the time police arrived at the scene of the shooting, two minutes after the report, Fekede had used his 9 mm pistol to fire 10 shots. Two people were injured by gunshots to what the chief described as their “lower extremities,” and another person suffered a grazing wound to the chest. Fekede also killed one person before turning the gun on himself.
Jones said he believed the Roanoke shooting was work-related, but his office will investigate whether the incident was an act of terrorism in a world in which, according to Inquisitr, the definition of terrorism is increasingly expanding. Fekede’s apartment in Roanoke has already been searched for clues.
“All information at this time points to Fekede acting as the sole perpetrator.”
WJHL reports that the ATF is investigating where Fekede obtained the semi-automatic handgun used in the shooting.
According to police, at least 50 people were in the Roanoke facility of FreightCar America at the time of the shooting, but it is unknown how many of them had been in the paint shop when Fekede entered. Jones credits the company’s emergency response procedures for helping many of its employees escape unharmed.
The Associated Press spoke with a neighbor of Fekede named Clarence Jones, who said Fekede quit his job because of harassment he was enduring at work at the hands of a co-worker who teased him and intimidated him. The neighbor added that Fekede had moved to another department within FreightCar America’s Roanoke facility, but quit, because the harassment had continued by the co-worker who “just didn’t like him.” Clarence Jones added that after being fired, Fekede, who sent part of his paychecks to his mother in Kenya, had become anxious about money. The neighbor described Fekede as a good neighbor who had never shown any predisposition to violence prior to today’s shooting.
Police are not identifying the shooting victims until all family members have arrived in Roanoke, but they did say that two of those injured remain in the hospital tonight — one in good condition, and one in serious condition. FreightCar America, which is headquartered in Chicago, released a statement on their website.
“FreightCar America extends its deepest condolences to everyone affected by the tragic events that occurred at our Roanoke facility earlier this morning. We are working closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement to determine what happened and ensure that our employees are safe. Due to the ongoing nature of this investigation, and out of respect for our employees and their families, we cannot provide specific information about the victims at this time.”
FreightCar America opened the facility in Roanoke in 2015. The Associated Press reports that in recent years, layoffs have occurred at multiple facilities, including the site of today’s shooting in Roanoke, as a result of fluctuating costs and demands.
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