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Fresno chicken plant gunman tried to shoot fifth co-worker, police say

When Lawrence Jones began firing at his co-workers at a Fresno packaging plant, authorities said, he walked methodically up to his victims, shooting them execution-style
When Lawrence Jones began firing at his co-workers at a Fresno packaging plant on Tuesday morning, authorities said, he walked methodically up to his victims, shooting them execution-style.

Two men were shot in the head and died, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. A third was shot in the throat and was critically injured. A woman was shot in the lower back as she fled the violence.

Jones then put his gun to the head of a fifth worker and pulled the trigger, Dyer said. The man escaped death only because Jones' four-shot gun was out of ammunition.

Jones, a career criminal who was discharged from parole this summer, then ran out of the building, reloaded and fatally shot himself in the head.

The staff at the plant was stunned by the chaos, which erupted just before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Workers fled the building, located just off a busy thoroughfare through the city.

Roger Medina, 44, said he was on his way to pick up trophies for his soccer team about 8:30 a.m. when he saw a man in meat-cutter gear running down Blackstone Avenue, yelling, "Somebody's shooting! Get help!"

Medina, who has CPR training, said he pulled onto the side street where the man was pointing.

"People in full sanitary gear, the hairnets and all, were running, screaming. Some were crying," he said.

Sixty-two people were inside the plant when the shooting occurred and 30 of them witnessed the violence, Dyer said.

Manuel Verdin, 34, and Salvador Diaz, 32, died of their injuries. Arnulfo Conrriquez, 28, was in critical condition after he was shot in the throat. Fatima Lopez, 32, was the victim shot in the lower back.

Authorities described Jones as a discharged parolee with an extensive criminal history. According to records from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Jones has been in and out of prison since 1991.

Jones received a three-year sentence in 1991 for second-degree robbery in Alameda County and was released in November 1993. In 1995, he was sentenced to 13 years for robbery with use of a firearm in Fremont County. He was released in 2001.

In 2004, he was back in prison again -- this time for stealing a car, driving under the influence and causing bodily injury. He was released in June 2011 and discharged from parole six months ago.

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-- Diana Marcum

Photo: Fresno police officers look over the area where Lawrence Jones killed himself after shooting co-workers at a central Fresno packaging plant. Credit: Gary Kazanjian / Associated Press

 
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