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Three killed, two injured in workplace rampage in North Carolina

January 13, 2012 |  9:52 am

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Three people were killed and two injured including the gunman in what authorities described as an act of workplace violence in a lumber company in rural North Carolina on Friday morning.

The gunman entered the warehouse of the McBride Lumber Co. outside the city of Star in central North Carolina and opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun, Montgomery County Sheriff Dempsey Owens said in a telephone interview.

“It appears the lone gunman entered the workplace, went up to certain people and commenced firing,” Owens said.

About 40 people worked at the company, including the gunman.

Three people were killed in the shooting and a fourth injured worker was flown by helicopter to a hospital. The worker is in serious condition with life-threatening wounds, Owens said.

The gunman was identified as Ronald Dean Davis, 50, of Ether, N.C., just north of Star, Owens said.

After the shooting at the lumber facility, Davis fled to his home. He apparently shot himself with a semiautomatic handgun and was rushed to a hospital where he was “in very, very, serious condition,” Owens said.

Owens would not discuss the motive for the shooting, but said a note by Davis was found and was being examined by authorities.

The sheriff described Star as a small town with between 800 and 850 full-time residents.

“It’s a quiet neighborhood, rural,” Owens said. "What we would call a good American hometown.”

Friday’s workplace violence was the “first time we’ve had so much devastation in any workplace” in the 23 years that Owens said he has been working in the area.

For the record, 3:42 p.m. Jan 13: A previous version of this post initially referred to the suspected gunman as Ronald Davis Ether. His name is Ronald Dean Davis, and he lives in Ether, N.C. Also, the previous version referred to the Montgomery County sheriff by the surname Dempsey in most references. Dempsey is his first name; his full name is Dempsey Owens.

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--Michael Muskal

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