TBI releases names of Athens, TN workplace shooting victims - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

TBI releases names of Athens, TN workplace shooting victims

(SOURCE: Sheriff Joe Guy) (SOURCE: Sheriff Joe Guy)
Athens, TN -

According to McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy, a shooter walked into a factory on Thursday in Athens, Tennessee, and began firing.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said the victims in the shooting were 44-year-old James Zotter and 68-year-old Sandra Cooley. The shooter was identified as 45-year-old Ricky Swafford.

The Daily Post-Athenian reported that four people were dead after the gunman walked into the Thomas & Betts plant and opened fire. But authorities said later during a press conference that there were three people dead, including the shooter.

The gunman entered around 4 p.m. EST and made his way straight to the production manager's office, according to the newspaper.

It was at the production manager's office where the Swafford shot and killed two people with a semi-automatic handgun.

Authorities said the shooter then took his own life.

TBI said Swafford was an employee at the plant. He got angry after a conversation with Zotter and Cooley, his supervisors. When he returned with a gun, other employees were able to alert one another about the active shooting situation and evacuated.

According to WRCB, Swafford had a concealed carry permit.

Sheriff Guy announced that the scene was secure at approximately 5:10 p.m. EST.

According to The Daily Post-Athenian, the neighboring high school, McMinn County High School, was placed on lockdown because it is close to the site of the shooting.

The lockdown of the school was a precaution due to his proximity and there was no direct threat made to the school.

Many employees fled the building when the shooter opened fire, taking cover in nearby woods, Sullians Cemetery, and another nearby plant.

Thomas & Betts is a manufacturing plant with locations all across the world, with its headquarters in Memphis. It produces connectors and components for the electrical and communications industries.

The plant is approximately 40 miles outside Chattanooga and approximately 60 miles from Knoxville. The parent company is sending counselors to its factory in Athens for employees who were inside when the shooting happened.

According to Sheriff Guy, Athens Police Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are leading the investigation.

Thomas & Betts released a statement describing the the shooting as a 'profound loss' and went on to say: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims' families during this difficult time. We will have grief counselors available to all of our employees at the facility. ABB is working closely with authorities to cooperate and assist in their investigation."

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