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1 dead, 4 wounded as worker opens fire at Fresno plant, police say

November 6, 2012 | 10:49 am

People embrace outside the police lines near where a shooting occurred at a chicken processing plant in Fresno Tuesday. Credit: Craig Kohlruss / MCT

An employee opened fire at a Fresno chicken processing plant on Tuesday morning, killing one person and wounding three others before shooting himself in the head, police said.

The suspect, identified as Lawrence Jones, 42, was in critical condition at an area hospital, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said. Jones, who Dyer said worked at the Apple Valley Farms plant for 14 months, was described as a "discharged parolee" with an "extensive criminal history that dates way back" into the 1990s.

Jones clocked in to work shortly before 5 a.m. and at about 8:30 "pulled out a handgun and began opening fire" near a cold storage section of the building, Dyer said. Police went to the central Fresno plant after several employees called 911.

There, officers found the four victims. A 32-year-old woman was found outside the building, with a gunshot wound in the lower back. Inside, officers found a 34-year-old man who had been shot in the head, a 28-year-old man who had been shot in the neck and a 32-year-old man, also shot in the head.

The 32-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene, Dyer said. The male victims were in critical condition at local hospitals; the woman was in serious condition but was expected to survive.

Officers found Jones outside the building with the apparent gunshot wound to the head, Dyer said. A gun was found next to him.

Authorities initially reported that eight people had been shot and two had died.

Investigators aren't sure what prompted the shooting, Dyer said, but a coworker said Jones "did not appear himself when he came in to work."

"There was something that must have provoked this incident" either Tuesday morning or in the days prior, Dyer said.

Police are also searching Jones' home and trying to determine if there are any other victims. Dyer said there was no indication there were, but his department would "do everything in our power" to make certain.


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Photo: People embrace outside the police lines near where a shooting occurred at a chicken processing plant in Fresno on Tuesday. Credit: Craig Kohlruss / MCT