A man who was fired from a Florida awning factory in April returned Monday with a semi-automatic pistol and methodically killed five people, then took his own life at the sound of an approaching siren, authorities said.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings identified the shooter as John Robert Neumann Jr., a 45-year-old Army veteran who lived alone and did not appear to belong to any type of subversive or terrorist organization.
The shooting began around 8 a.m. after Neumann slipped through a rear door into the cavernous factory, an area larger than two football fields where awnings are stitched together for recreational vehicles. He paused at least once to reload.
"My experience tells me that this individual made deliberate thought to do what he did today. He had a plan of action," the sheriff said. The gunman "had a negative relationship with" at least one of the victims.
"He was certainly singling out the individuals he shot," Demings said, adding that most victims were shot in the head. Some were shot multiple times.
The motive remained under investigation. Deputies cordoned off the gunman's mobile home in Maitland, north of Orlando, and were looking through any social media postings for clues. Neumann was honorably discharged in 1999 and did not have a concealed weapons permit, the sheriff said.
Arnie Boyd, who lives in the same trailer park, said Neumann was not particularly social. "Every once in a while, he would ride his bike around and that's it," Boyd said. "We would speak only once in a while."
The dead were identified as Robert Snyder, 69; Brenda Montanez-Crespo, 44; Kevin Clark, 53; Jeffrey Roberts, 57; and Kevin Lawson, 46.
Authorities had confronted Neumann once before at the Fiamma Inc. awning factory, when he was accused of battering a co-worker in June 2014. But after interviewing both men involved, deputies filed no charges, Demings said.
Neumann's previous criminal record was otherwise minor — marijuana possession and driving under the influence — and the co-worker he allegedly beat up three years ago was not among Monday's victims, the sheriff said.
Fiamma calls itself one of the largest manufacturers of awnings for camper vans, motor coaches and sport utility vehicles.
Shelley Adams said her sister, Sheila McIntyre, called her from the company's bathroom during the shooting and kept repeating, "My boss is dead. My boss is dead."
State and federal law enforcement officers converged on the awning business in an industrial park in Orlando after a woman ran out and called 911 from a tile business across the street, said Yamaris Gomez, that store's owner.
"All she kept saying was he was holding a gun and told her to get out," Gomez said.
That woman had been hired after Neumann was fired in April, so he probably did not recognize her, the sheriff said.
Officers arrived two minutes later, the sheriff said. The FBI also responded, said Ron Hopper, who runs the FBI's Orlando office.
And while five people were killed, "seven others' lives were saved due to the quick actions of the officers who arrived on the scene today," said Special Agent Danny Banks of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Authorities had no reports of any specific threats the gunman made to people at the company or anyone else, Banks said.
Banks and Orlando Mayor Teresa Jacobs both said the attack shows why people need to alert authorities if they learn of anything that could lead to violence.
"If people see something that seems abnormal, they need to say something," the mayor said.
Gov. Rick Scott said he had been briefed by law enforcement and that he and his wife, Ann, "are praying for the families who lost loved ones today."
"I ask all Floridians to pray for the families impacted by this senseless act of violence," he added.
The shooting comes a week before the one-year anniversary of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
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