Anatomy of a nightmare
Tracing events of a tragic Tuesday
By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
July 13, 2003
A light fog hung over east Lauderdale County minutes before sunrise Tuesday as Pete Threatt pulled up a chair inside the Lockheed Martin plant to finish his Hardee's breakfast biscuit.
A few miles up the road in North Meridian, Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie poured a cup of coffee for his wife as he prepared for another day at the sheriff's department.
In another part of the Lockheed Martin plant, Doug Williams and his girlfriend, Shirley J. Price, just finished eating their breakfast. They punched the time clock and were ready to start work.
Three and a half hours later, their lives changed forever when Williams opened fire on fellow workers with a 12-gauge shotgun, killing five of them, injuring nine others and then taking his own life.
Since then, Sollie, other law officers, Lockheed Martin officials and workers have tried to piece together exactly what happened that day including what might have sparked Williams' actions.
While people still search for a motive, interviews with law enforcement officials and workers at the plant show how an otherwise normal workday instantly turned into chaos.
8:45 a.m.: Threatt stopped and chatted with Williams after the plant's 8:30 a.m. break. The two had known each other since they started working at Lockheed Martin in the early 1980s.
For the most part, Threatt said, Williams was a likable guy, someone who "you could hear laughing from across the plant."
But, Threatt said, Williams was known to be battling depression since a failed marriage in 1989. He also was known to snap at other employees, including making racial comments.
Threatt said he knew Williams also was on two antidepressants, Zolof and Celexa.
That morning, Threatt and Williams talked about the voluntary overtime shift the two worked two days before. Threatt said Williams "gave no indications that anything was wrong."
Minutes after talking with Threatt, Williams passed by Brenda DuBose.
DuBose worked near Williams assembling parts for the F-22 Raptor jet. DuBose said she had worked alongside Williams for years and was careful to be friendly to him because he was known to have a violent temper.
Williams reminded DuBose of a meeting the two were scheduled to attend.
DuBose finished her work, clocked out and headed for a training trailer connected to the plant where she, Williams and about 15 others were scheduled to attend a required annual business ethics class.
But Dubose said Williams stayed in the class for a minute before he left, telling a few nearby employees "Y'all can handle this."
About 9:30 a.m.: Williams returned. He bolted through the classroom door with a semi-automatic rifle strapped on his back, a bandoleer draped across his chest and a 12-gauge shotgun in his hands ready to fire.
One eyewitness said he looked like Sylvester Stallone in "Rambo," the violent, 1985 movie in which Stallone used an arsenal of weapons to kill Vietnamese and free American prisoners of war.
Then Williams fired several shots, killing fellow employees Sam Cockrell and Mickey Fitzgerald.
Other shots struck DeLois Bailey, Charles Scott and Al Collier, seriously injuring them. Steve Cobb, the plant manager, Brad Bynum, Chuck McReynolds and DuBose also were struck by bullet fragments.
A piece of buckshot grazed DuBose's head and hand, sending blood down her face. Some employees scampered around the floor, taking cover under tables and under chairs.
Williams then briefly left the room, returned and started shooting again.
Williams looked down at DuBose and told her "Bren, I'm not going to shoot you.'"
Williams left the trailer again. Some employees came out from under the tables. They moved chairs and desks in front of the door to barricade the entrance.
Williams, however, headed for the plant's main floor.