ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officers raced past dead and injured bodies in a New Mexico manufacturing plant as they looked for a gunman who had wounded his girlfriend during a confrontation before fatally shooting two of her co-workers then himself.
Three others were wounded during Monday’s rampage at Emcore Corp., which police say capped a bitter child custody dispute between the man and his girlfriend.
Authorities identified the gunman as Robert Reza, 37, a former employee at the Albuquerque plant. Reza had addresses in Rio Rancho and Albuquerque.
The girlfriend remained hospitalized in critical condition with gunshot wounds Monday night. Two of the other wounded people were in stable condition at University of New Mexico Hospital, while the third was treated and released, hospital spokesman Billy Sparks said.
No other names were released.
Police Chief Ray Schultz said the girlfriend had told co-workers she planned to report domestic violence to authorities. He said Reza acted alone.
“His primary target was his girlfriend at the facility,” Schultz said. “He knew her routine and confronted her outside the business.”
Schultz said the only criminal background discovered for Reza were drunken driving arrests in 2003 and 2000. The chief said there was at least one previous domestic violence call involving the gunman outside Albuquerque but he didn’t have details.
It wasn’t known how Reza was able to force his way past Emcore security. He went through the building firing shots at several workers and leaving behind a gruesome scene of blood and shell casings across the company headquarters.
Responding officers had to step past several victims — one dead and several wounded — as they raced into the building to stop the gunman. Mayhem unfolded as Reza opened fire, sending employees fleeing for cover as police locked down the entire neighborhood.
“This is the worst nightmare you can think of,” Schultz said. “No one wants to have a situation like this occur in their community.”
He said the gunman and his girlfriend had children who live in Rio Rancho and said they were taken into custody by “another agency.”
Schultz called the Emcore campus a “very secure facility” and said detectives and FBI agents reviewed surveillance video, which confirmed witnesses’ accounts.
“It’s a large and complex shooting scene,” he said.
He said more than 220 people were transported by bus from Emcore buildings to a community center, where detectives interviewed them. Employees also were offered grief counseling and treatment for asthma or diabetic conditions.
Emcore manufactures components that allow voice, video and data transmission over fiber-optic lines. They also make solar power systems for satellite and ground-based systems, and Schultz said the company deals with numerous federal contracts.
Based in Albuquerque, the company has about 700 full-time employees.