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Shooting Victims Loved their Jobs

February 6, 2001

MELROSE PARK, Ill. (AP) _ Like his father before him, Daniel Dorsch had spent half his life working at the Navistar plant. And by all accounts, it was a job he loved.

The 52-year-old supervisor in Navistar’s engine lab was shot to death Monday shortly after he began his shift. He and three other workers died when they crossed the path of a former employee who chose the day before he was to report to prison as the day he would kill.

Police said it was not yet clear whether 66-year-old William D. Baker targeted any of those four or the four others he wounded before he turned the gun on himself.

Dorsch, who lived in Elmwood Park, grew up in Chicago and rooted for the White Sox. He married his high school sweetheart and had celebrated his 30th wedding anniversary just five days earlier.

After Vietnam War service, Dorsch took a job at Navistar, working his way up in 26 years from line worker to foreman in the department that tests engines.

``He used to hold barbecues and picnics and bring in food at lunchtime for all his associates and employees, so everybody would have a good time,″ said his brother, Terry Dorsch. He said that every Christmas, his brother ``would get the names of underprivileged children and send gifts out.″

Daniel Dorsch, 80, who had helped his son get a job at Navistar, buried his head in his arms and sobbed.

``Oh God, what a day,″ he said. ``I had two sons, now I only got one. I should have gone before him.″

In Hanover Park, where Robert Wehrheim lived, the family home was filled with grieving relatives who received comfort from the family’s pastor.

Wehrheim, 47, was a technician who had been working at Navistar for two years. His brother-in-law, Gary Clements, described him as a lifelong tinkerer and a religious man who went home early on Saturday nights to gear up to play drums at two church services on Sundays.

``He loved the job,″ Clements said. ``He worked a lot with computers and new diesel engines. He talked about it all the time, what they were doing.″

In addition to Dorsch and Wehrheim, Baker killed Michael Brus, 48, of Hinckley and William Garcia, 44, of Carpentersville.

Brus was described as a good neighbor, someone who would go into the yard next door to sweep up leaves that had blown from his own yard.

``We never built a fence,″ said next-door neighbor William Dorion. ``We never needed one.″

Garcia was a test engineer who had worked at the company for 22 years.

``I’m glad the guy (Baker) ... is dead,″ said Garcia’s sister Marguerite Papenbrok. ``I wish I was the one that shot him. I hope he suffered.″

One of the four wounded men, Carl Swanson, 45, a 21-year Navistar employee, was in critical condition Tuesday morning at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital. The other three wounded were technicians Mujtaba Aidroos, 24, hospitalized in serious condition; Bryan Snyder, 26, in fair condition; and Matthew Kusch, 22, who was treated and released.

Caren Lucente, a friend of Swanson’s since high school, called him ``a wonderful person. He’s very, very bright and well-read. He really loves his family. I’m just shocked that this could happen to him.″

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