Gunman opens fire at North Side power company
By Kim Bell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
UPDATED, 7:40 a.m. Thursday
ST. LOUIS -- A gunman armed with an assault rifle stormed a power company this morning in north St. Louis, shooting at least three people. Some employees at the business ran to the rooftop to escape the gunfire. At least one man barricaded himself in a maintenance room.
The gunman was believed to be still in the building as of 7 a.m. and details provided by police spokeswoman Schron Jackson were sketchy. But reports by dispatchers said that the company was ABB Power, at 4350 Semple Avenue.
Police had a staging area at Bircher and Semple.
About 6:30 a.m. today, police got a call from a woman, very upset, who said that someone came in to the east side of the building and started shooting. "They are still shooting," a dispatcher told police officers rushing to the scene at 6:34 a.m.
The scene was so chaotic that even the descriptions of the gunman were confusing to police. At first, a witness described the gunman only as a black man, about 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9, wearing a tan coat and carrying a semiautomatic weapon. Later, a company supervisor called police to give the name of a disgruntled worker who had possibly been recently fired. That worker was a white man.
Another employee on the phone with police said multiple shots were being fired at the east annex of the building. One man was shot in the leg at the east annex.
One caller and other employees were on the roof while talking to police.
"The subject is now outside still shooting," a dispatcher said.
Minutes later, police were tracking a black SUV with its headlights off heading east from Semple and Bircher. But the conversation on the police radio was somewhat chaotic. A police supervisor was trying to determine whether the SUV was connected in some way, or if shots were still being fired inside the building.
At 6:45 a.m., that was soon cleared up though when an employee on a rear lot told police over the phone that he was looking at the gunman right then, and that the gunman was still shooting.
Police were told he carried a handgun, a rifle and an ammunition belt.
Ambulances were on their way, but police warned it was a "hot zone" because the shooter hadn't been captured yet.
At 7:15 a.m., one victim hiding in a supervisor's office at the plant called police to say he had been shot in the stomach, leg and arm and was afraid to come out because he didn't know where the gunman wasa. He said he was with another shooting victim, a man who was neither conscious nor breathing.
The plant on Semple makes transformers for an international power company. A company spokesman could not immediately be reached to comment. Employees were being escorted by police onto a Metro bus but weren't being allowed to leave the scene.
This is a breaking story. Check back to STLtoday.com for updates.