Office Shooting In Suburban Detroit

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Ninety minutes after reporting to work Monday morning, Jean Larson heard what turned out to be deadly gunfire inside her office building -- then "all hell broke loose."
Police say Anthony LaCalamita III, an accounting firm employee fired from his job last week, returned Monday to the suburban office building where he previously worked, fatally shooting one person and wounding two others.
"We heard pop, pop, pop," said Larson, 48, who at first thought the sound was a fallen bookshelf or noise made by the children of fellow employees.
But when she smelled gunpowder and heard other co-workers running down a hallway screaming, she realized it was gunfire that she had heard.
"I heard one employee screaming, `He's got a gun. He's got a gun.' ... It was a panic. No one knew what to do. No one knew where to go."
Authorities say LaCalamita then left the Troy office complex and headed north, where he was spotted by a motorist and later taken into custody by police, who had orders to shoot and kill him if he resisted. He was arrested following a 30-mile car chase in which speeds reached 120 mph.
LaCalamita still was listed as part of the professional staff on the Web site of Gordon Advisors, a public accounting and business consulting firm located in the office building where the shooting took place.
Some witnesses told police that when the shooter walked into the building shortly after 10 a.m., he looked as if he was trying to hide something.
"I'm sure he made an effort to conceal the weapon," Troy Police Chief Charles Craft said. "Witnesses said he was concealing something. They just weren't sure what."
"I'm not positive all three of the people were targeted but there appeared to be some purpose," Craft said.
Lt. Gerry Scherlinck said workers were calling 9-1-1 as the gunman ran past them.
"He literally made eye contact with witnesses, they could see the shotgun in his hand, they could smell the gunpowder and he ran by them."
Larson said employees briefly assembled in the lunchroom, then one person suggested it would be safer to hole up inside individual offices. Larson joined two female co-workers, barricading the locked door with chairs, turning off the lights and silencing their cell phones.
Beneath the desk, the three employees curled up in fetal positions and didn't make a sound.
"I was just so scared," Larson said. "I just kept thinking, `This can't be happening."'
Larson said within 15 minutes employees were milling in the hallway and being escorted by Troy police to what had become the "secure area," a cramped 20-person employee lunchroom where 30-35 employees had been assembled.
Larson said some employees were crying; others were noticeably shaken. Three pregnant women were offered water and the chance to sit down.
"I said a small prayer for all three victims, and for Anthony," said Larson, who works as a staff accountant for G&C, a Troy-based accounting firm that's a subsidiary for Gordon Advisors, a 40- to 50-employee company where workers have been busy preparing last-minute tax returns. "That kind of calmed everyone down."
But the prospect of remaining inside a building where a deadly shooter possibly still roamed made everyone nervous, she said. "We all just wanted out of there."
Nearly an hour later, police escorted the gathered employees out of the building, rejoining some with awaiting family and loved ones.
Larson said she befriended LaCalamita this past Christmas and described him as a "polite" man "who didn't say much" and who was "a really nice guy."
She said her company is the last place she'd expect something like this to happen.
"This firm is amazing to work for," Larson said. "I just can't imagine anyone wanting to do something like this. Not here."
Calls made to Gordon Advisors were not answered, and a recording said the offices were closed.
Police said the person killed was a 63-year-old woman from Warren. Hospital spokeswoman Ilene Wolfe said she died on the way to the hospital.
While police would not name the victims, a message posted Monday afternoon on Gordon Advisors' Web site said the office would be closed Tuesday in memory of Madeline Kafoury.
Larson, who has worked for G&C for 19 months, said Kafoury was well-known and well-liked. She said Kafoury retired last year following the conclusion of tax season, but returned part-time this year after her successor quit.
Scherlinck identified one of the wounded victims as a 47-year-old man from Sterling Heights, and the other as a 48-year-old man from Bruce Township, in northern Macomb County.
Wolfe said the families of the wounded men requested "total privacy," and the hospital would not release any details about the victims' conditions.
Police said they arrested LaCalamita following a high-speed chase that began on Interstate 75 near Clio, 50 miles north of where the shootings took place in Oakland County and ended in Bay County. A 12-gauge pump-action shotgun and three live shells were recovered from the car LaCalamita was driving, police said.
Police learned of LaCalamita's whereabouts when a motorist who had been listening to the news on the radio spotted a car matching the description of the one the shooter was said to be driving.
The 50-year-old Dexter resident called 9-1-1. Minutes later, three sheriff's deputies began pursuing LaCalamita, Genesee County Sheriff Robert Pickell said during a news conference.
"This tragedy was brought to a conclusion by the quick wit and observation of an alert citizen," Pickell said.
The Genesee County deputies were joined by officers from the Michigan State Police and other jurisdictions and eventually boxed in LaCalamita's car and forced him to pull over.
"He probably realized if he didn't (stop), he was going to be shot," said Genesee County Undersheriff James Gage. By then, police knew that one person had died in the shootings, which Gage said gave them justification to use fatal force on LaCalamita if he didn't stop.
When arrested, the 5'8", 189-pound LaCalamita was "very, very, very subdued," Pickell said. "He made no comment at all."
LaCalamita was handed over Monday afternoon to Troy police, where he was to spend the night in the city lockup. He was expected to be formally charged Tuesday in the shootings.
LaCalamita, 38, most recently lived in Novi and Troy, according to the Michigan secretary of state's office. Records indicate he had been ticketed for speeding three times in Michigan between 2001 and 2004. Police said he is divorced and lived alone.
On Monday evening, three plainclothes police officers searched LaCalamita's Troy apartment. Several neighbors said they didn't know the suspect.
The 170,000-square-foot building where the shooting occurred houses a number of businesses, including law offices and the accounting firm. Police at first told workers to stay in their offices but a short time later evacuated the building, although some workers remained locked inside their offices.


WILX.com is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

Keep it clean, keep it civil, keep it truthful, stay on topic, be responsible, share your knowledge, and please suggest removal of comments that violate these standards.

powered by Disqus
WILX 500 American Road Lansing, MI 48911 517-393-0110
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 6937437 - wilx.com/a?a=6937437