Canadian Manufacturing

3 dead in Tennessee factory shooting

A man entered a Thomas & Betts Corp. factory in Athens, Tenn. and started shooting first in the front office, later moving to the factory floor



ATHENS, Tenn.—Three people died Thursday in a shooting at an east Tennessee factory, police said.

The shooter’s body was found in a bathroom, dead of what “appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Athens Police Chief Charles Ziegler said. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation identified him as Ricky Swafford, 45.

Swafford shot James Zotter, 44, and Sandra Cooley, 68, according to the TBI. All three of the dead were employees of the plant.

The Knoxville News Sentinel said the shooting was reported around 4:15 p.m. at Thomas & Betts Corp. Police arrived to find people “streaming” from all exits, Ziegler said.

The police chief said the shooter was apparently using a semi-automatic pistol, but he didn’t know the calibre or brand.

Witnesses described “some attempted shooting in the front office and actual shooting deep inside the factory on the north side and the middle,” Ziegler said.

Thomas & Betts’ headquarters is in suburban Memphis. It designs and makes electrical components for industrial, commercial, lighting and utility markets.

Parent company ABB said in a statement Thursday night that the “loss is profound.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families during this difficult time,” the statement said. “We will have grief counsellors available to all of our employees at the facility. ABB is working closely with authorities to co-operate and assist in their investigation.”

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