Girlfriend: Williams a victim, too
DISTRAUGHT An emotional Shirley J. Price is escorted to her car by Ken Storms, Meridian's chief administrative officer, left, and Meridian Fire Department Administration Battalion Chief Tracy Tucker after she interrupted a memorial service at First Baptist Church in Meridian on Thursday. Price was the girlfriend of Doug Williams, the man who killed five co-workers before committing suicide at a Lockheed Martin plant in Lauderdale County. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
July 11, 2003
The girlfriend of the man who shot and killed five co-workers at Lockheed-Martin interrupted a memorial service Thursday telling a packed church that her boyfriend also was a victim.
Shirley J. Price interrupted Mayor John Robert Smith after he read names of the dead and nine others injured when Lockheed employee Doug Williams opened fire on fellow workers Tuesday before he took his own life.
Smith, whose list of the dead didn't include Williams' name, called the shootings the acts of one man. Said Smith: "This is not who we are."
Price, who was sitting near the back of the church, stood and interrupted: "Excuse me. He was a victim, too."
Price told the mayor not to exclude Williams from the memorial. Several people in the crowd of about 600 rushed to Price's side to quiet her; the mayor watched silently from the church pulpit.
Price's outburst came on a day in which the Meridian and Lauderdale County community joined together to remember those killed and injured in one of the worst workplace shootings in Mississippi.
It was also one of the first times that friends or family members of the shooter made any public comments about the killings. Williams, 48, was buried earlier Thursday in a private ceremony.
In a phone interview from his home Thursday afternoon, Williams' father remembered his son as a caring person the second-oldest in a close-knit family of four children.
The elder Williams, 81, said Doug was a Christian man who was saved at a church revival when he was a teenager. He graduated from Clarkdale High School with good grades, his dad said.
Doug's father said his son had some trouble with depression after divorcing his wife about 14 years ago. He said his son was a kind, honest man, a hard worker who "can do most anything."
He said he was surprised when he heard some of Doug's co-workers speculate the killings were racially motivated.
At the downtown Meridian memorial service, Doug's girlfriend who also had worked at Lockheed Martin said her boyfriend "was a man pushed to the point that he broke."
Price, who broke into tears and was escorted out of the First Baptist Church, described Williams as a kind and loving human being.''
Several of those attending the memorial service stood and applauded after Price made her remarks.
Outside the church, Price said Williams had been taking medicine for depression and high blood pressure.
She told The Associated Press that Williams had felt like everybody was against him,'' knew he had problems and that Lockheed officials had ignored him when he sought help.
Lockheed Martin spokesman Sam Grizzle said Thursday that the company was not aware of Williams seeking help at any time.
He said Lockheed paid for Williams to go to an anger management course in 2001 when Williams admitted to having a problem with his temper following a confrontation with an employee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report