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6 Die in Shooting at Miss. Lockheed Plant

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6 Die in Shooting at Miss. Lockheed Plant

By MATT VOLZ, Associated Press Writer

MERIDIAN, Miss. - An employee opened fire at a Lockheed Martin plant Tuesday, killing five people before killing himself, authorities said. Eight other people were taken to hospitals.

Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie confirmed the deaths and injuries.

"He had a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle and he appeared to open fire at random on employees," Sollie said.

The shooting broke out around 9:30 a.m. Sollie said no other individuals were involved and his officers were securing the scene. Investigators had no motive, he said.

Sollie didn't release the name of the gunman but said he was a Lockheed Martin employee. He had no information on whether the man had been in trouble with his bosses.

"We are not sure if those killed were friend or foe," the sheriff said. "There was no indication it involved race or gender as far as his targets were concerned."

Officials at the plant declined to comment and a Lockheed Martin national spokeswoman was unable to immediately provide details.

"We're just trying to gather information and are working with state and local authorities to determine the details of the incident," said spokeswoman Meaghan Mariman from the company's Bethesda, Md., headquarters. She says the plant employs roughly 150 people.

Gov. Ronnie Musgrove said: "Mississippi's family grieves today for this senseless tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those lost."

Meridian, a city of about 40,000 near the Alabama line, has an economy largely dependent on the military. Besides the Lockheed Martin plant, the area is home to a naval air station and an Air National Guard training facility.

The Meridian plant builds parts for the C-130J Hercules and vertical stabilizers for F-22 Raptor jets, which are assembled at the plant in Marietta, Ga., along with military transport planes.

Lockheed Martin is the largest defense contractor in the United States. The corporation had sales of $24 billion in 2001. It employs about 125,000 people.

Subsidiary Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. is based in Fort Worth, Texas.

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