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Fired City Worker Kills Five, Then Himself

February 10, 1996

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ More than a year after being fired and vowing revenge, a one-time member of the city’s beach cleanup detail came back with two guns and shot five former co-workers to death Friday, then killed himself.

Clifton McCree, 41, barged into the small blue-and-white municipal trailer where he had once worked at 5 a.m. Friday, and said ```All of you (expletive) are going to die,″ said Nancy Ellers, who barely escaped.

``I turned and ran to the door,″ Ellers said. ``He took a shot at me, I felt it going by.″

McCree opened fire with a 9mm handgun, pausing once to reload.

Exactly 14 months earlier, McCree had been fired for flunking a drug test, harassing and threatening co-workers and being rude to the public, Maj. Al Ortenzo said. McCree had been on the job for 18 years.

The attack took place at 5 a.m., at a building set back a few yards from the palm-fringed Intracoastal Waterway, which separates Fort Lauderdale Beach from the mainland.

Five parks workers were killed and a sixth was critically wounded. He and a Ellers called 911.

McCree shot the workers as they sat at a conference table to receive their daily assignments picking up litter from beaches and parks. The team was known as the ``Hurricane Crew.″

He fired at least 14 shots, never touching a pistol in a shoulder holster under his jacket, before he turned the gun on himself.

McCree carried a suicide note, but police said they would not divulge the contents until Saturday.

Co-workers remembered that McCree vowed revenge after he was fired. ``He made threats to come back and do things,″ said one worker, who identified himself only as Doug.

Another worker, who didn’t give his name, said McCree constantly fought with employees. ``He thought everybody was out to get him. ... Just paranoia, I guess.″

Killed at the scene were Joseph Timothy Clifford, 37; Joseph Belotto, 40; Kenneth A. Brunjes, 46; and Mark A. Bretz, 36. Donald Leroy Moon Jr., 44, died at a hospital. Joseph L. Brookins, 43, was in critical condition.

Police say they received a 911 call from the trailer from Brookins.

Ms. Ellers and relatives of Brookins claimed the shootings were motivated by race, not a hatred of his former boss or the agency. All of the victims were white; McCree was black.

``He held a grudge against white people in general,″ Ms. Ellers said.

Brookins’ niece, Alicia Damore, said she recalled a conversation from a year and a half ago which foreshadowed the shooting.

``He said that white people should be dead, white people shouldn’t be able to live,″ Ms. Damore told WSVN-TV in Miami.

Alice Hirst, Brookins’ sister, said he had repeatedly warned that McCree was dangerous.

``He says `And I told you Alice, if I don’t come out of this, you sue the city, because I’ve been telling them for a year and a half that this man was going to do this.″ Ms. Hirst told WSVN.

Steve Breaden, manager of the Beach Express convenience store across from the trailer, said a second crew reporting for beach detail at 6 a.m. stopped by his place for coffee and doughnuts.

``Ten minutes later, they came running back and `Our whole crew is dead!‴ Breaden said. ``One guy said he was supposed to be there at 4 this morning but he went out and got drunk last night and overslept.″

Friends of one victim, Brunjes, said he began working the beach detail four months ago and probably never met McCree.

Belinda Wilson, a neighbor of McCree’s in Fort Lauderdale, said she used to see him washing his car or mowing the lawn, but never spoke with him. He lived with his wife and three children _ two boys and a girl.

``No disturbing anything at all,″ she said. ``You get a funny feeling that you lived right next to him.″

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