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Friends and family vent emotions in NAACP meeting

By Staff
LOCKHEED MARTIN MEETING Chris Cockrell, brother of Sam Cockrell, who died in the July 8 Lockheed Martin shootings, and an unidentified relative leave a private meeting Thursday night. The meeting for friends and family of shooting victims took place at Meridian Community College and was sponsored by the Meridian and Lauderdale County chapter of the NAACP. Photo by Anna Wright / The Meridian Star
By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
July 18, 2003
Friends and family of people killed or wounded in last week's shooting rampage at Lockheed Martin met in private Thursday night at Meridian Community College to vent their emotions.
Even though the meeting was closed to the public, the president of the Meridian and Lauderdale County NAACP chapter which sponsored the session said potential litigation was not on the agenda.
At one point, Patton asked high profile attorney Alvin Chambliss Jr. to leave the meeting.
Chambliss is the former lead attorney in the Jake Ayers case, a 28-year-old lawsuit that accused Mississippi of neglecting its historically black state-supported universities.
Chambliss arrived after the 6 p.m. start of the meeting; he stayed about 15 to 20 minutes before being asked to leave. Chambliss sat outside the meeting room, spoke with attendees after it broke and then left.
Deadly rampage
The NAACP meeting came more than a week after Lockheed Martin employee Doug Williams opened fire on fellow workers July 8. He killed six people, injured eight others and then took his own life.
Some Lockheed Martin workers speculated that race might have been a motive in the killings. Of the six killed, one was white and five were black; of the eight injured, five were white and three were black. Williams was white.
Patton declined to comment whether he believes race was a motive because "I have heard so many things."
Patton said he and the NAACP are more concerned with healing families and others affected by the shootings.
He said there may be a time for lawsuits in the future.
Coming together
All of the more than 20 people who attended Thursday's meeting were black including family members of one employee who was killed and another who was wounded.
Terrie Collier said her husband, Al, is recovering at Rush Foundation Hospital after being injured in the shooting. But, she said, he also is suffering from pain and flashbacks of the incident.
Collier said her husband is in stable condition. He lost two fingers on his right hand during the shooting, she said, as well as suffering injuries to his right shoulder, his left side and his back.
Chris Cockrell, whose brother, Sam, was killed during the shootings, said he hopes Lockheed tries to settle with the families so that lawsuits are not necessary.