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Firefighter Kills Five, Wounds Three, Is Shot by Police

April 25, 1996

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ A firefighter killed his wife at home, then went to a firehouse and opened fire on his supervisors Wednesday, killing four department officials before being wounded in a shootout, police said.

Kenneth Tornes, a eight-year veteran, led police on a high speed chase from the downtown fire department to the parking lot of a busy suburban shopping center, causing several wrecks, one involving an ambulance.

At the North Park Mall in Ridgeland, a suburban community that borders Jackson, Tornes wounded one officer before being shot in the left eye.

Tornes was in serious but stable condition Wednesday after surgery.

Tornes had apparently made threatening statements long before the shootings, another firefighter said.

``He was a perfect gentlemen except when you got him talking about the chiefs,″ 14-year firefighter Tim Dukes said. ``Apparently he was upset about his wife and he came here and did this. But he’s been talking about this for years.″

Police Chief Robert Johnson said the shootings began on the station’s second floor, where senior officers were meeting, and the gunman moved to different offices while firing.

Ramona Williams, who was in a hallway, said Tornes screamed ``Lady get back, I am going to blow the place up!″

Officers recovered a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun, a Mac 11 assault-style rifle and Tech 9 automatic pistol from Tornes’ car in the mall parking lot.

Fellow firefighters said Tornes was having personal problems.

``He was a time bomb waiting to go off,″ said Tony Davis, president of the Jackson chapter of the Mississippi Association of Professional Firefighters.

Investigators said they had not established a motive for the shootings.

The body of Tornes 42-year-old wife, Glenda, was found in their home. She had been shot once in the head earlier Wednesday, officials said.

The dead firefighters were identified as Capt. Merideth Moree, 49; District Chief Dwight Craft, 48; Capt. Stan Adams, 45; and District Chief Rick Robbins, 47.

Fire Department Capt. Ken Lewis, 50, was in critical condition and District Chief Jacob Bell, 48, was in stable condition. Ridgeland police officer Elmo Gabbert was in stable condition.

Fire Department Investigator Norman Presson was in his department vehicle and talking to a fire department dispatcher when the shooting started. He said he heard the shots over the radio.

``Apparently, whoever was on duty keyed up the mike when the gunman came in,″ Presson said, adding that he heard someone pleading with the assailant not to open fire. ``Then I heard shots fired over the radio.″

Mayor Kane Ditto said the man must have been deranged.

``This could happen at any time or any place,″ the mayor said outside the station. ``This is obviously a horrible tragedy.″

It was the second multiple shooting in Mississippi’s capital city this month.

On April 12, white supremacist Larry Shoemake sprayed a busy shopping center with gunfire, killing one person and wounding 10 others. He then set fire to the abandoned restaurant where he was holed up and died in the flames.

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