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Saturday, July 03, 2004 - Page updated at 12:21 A.M.

5 killed, 3 hurt in shooting at food-packaging plant

By Robert A. Cronkleton and John Shultz
Knight Ridder Newspapers

ORLIN WAGNER / AP
Kansas City, Kan., police lead unidentified family members away outside the ConAgra plant in Kansas City yesterday. Shootings at the plant left five dead and three injured.
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Five people were killed and three others wounded yesterday afternoon in a shooting inside the ConAgra Foods plant in the Argentine district of Kansas City, Kan.

Kansas City deputy police chief Sam Breshears said five people were pronounced dead. Police initially said the victims included the person thought to be the gunman but later would not confirm that.

Breshears said three other plant workers were hospitalized. One of the wounded workers was shot five times, according to family members.

Breshears said the motive for the shootings was not clear. Some plant employees who were witnesses to the shooting said they recognized the gunman as a man who had worked at the plant, been laid off and recently brought back.

Police evacuated the building and cordoned off a wide area outside the plant within minutes after the shootings were reported about 5:30 p.m. Central time.

One employee at the food-packaging and processing plant, Dan Jenkins, said he heard gunshots and saw a man with a 9mm handgun around the break room area. Another employee, Larry Green, said he heard gunshots from the locker room and cafeteria.

Plant employee Juan Ramirez, who was wounded in the attack, told family members that he was shot while in the cafeteria, two of Ramirez's nephews said. Ramirez was "doing OK," one of them said.

Marilyn Hill, a bartender at a bar a block from the plant, said a plant worker rushed in and told her that he and another man had seen a co-worker enter the locker room. They heard two loud pops and then the co-worker came out from the locker room with a gun in his hand.

"He said the shooter just turned and walked into another room," Hill said she was told by the worker who came in her bar. "He knew that was his time to run."
 
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On the south side of the plant, anxious family members gathered across from a trucking plant, many with young children, all sharing worried looks.

David Wilson of Kansas City, Kan., said he received a phone message at home from his wife, Antonia, saying, "Somebody's been shot; they're rushing us out of the building."

He drove to the plant and found police donning bullet-proof vests.

"I'm not calm," he said. "But there's nothing I can do. They won't let me in. I just have to watch and hope for the best."

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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