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Michael Julius FORD

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
="font-size: 8pt" color="#000000" face="Verdana"> Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Shooting spree (killing one and injuring five)
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: June 25, 2006
Date of birth: 1983
Victim profile: Mauricio DeHaro, 32 (co-worker)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Denver, Colorado, USA
Status: Shot and killed during a shootout with SWAT officers the same day
 
 
 
 
 
 

On June 25, 2006, Michael Julius Ford, 22, an American-born convert to Islam, went on a shooting spree in a Safeway warehouse in Denver, Colorado, killing one and injuring five before he was shot and killed by police.

Attack

On the afternoon of June 25, Ford went to the Safeway warehouse where he was employed. At 3:12, he started randomly shooting his fellow employees with a long-barreled handgun. Mauricio DeHaro, 32, was killed in the shooting.

Mark Moran, 37, John Mendoza, 27, Luis Relford, 34, Oscar Martinez, 27, and police officer Derick Dominguez were injured. All those injured were hospitalized, though Martinez was released shortly after being treated. Moran was shot in the head; Relford was shot in the wrist; Mendoza was shot in the face; and Dominguez was shot in the hip.

After the shooting began, police, including SWAT personnel, responded to the shooting and arrived at 3:24. The police began searching for Ford in the warehouse, where he had set several small fires.

68 minutes after the police entered the warehouse, Ford ambushed them, before the police had an opportunity to talk with the shooter. Officer Derick Dominguez was wounded at this time. The police returned fire and killed Ford.

Attacker

Ford was a graduate of Montbello High School. He began working at Safeway in February 2005.

Motive

Although Ford's sister claimed that Ford had been "picked on" at work because he was a Muslim, his father (also a Muslim), Denver police, Safeway officials, and victim Luis Relford all denied this allegation. Ford's father said that Ford was upset because he was passed over for promotion; Safeway denies this claim as well. Police have not been able to identify a motive.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

Cops' hunt lasted hour

Gunman revealed himself in hail of shots

By Sarah Langbein - Rocky Mountain News

June 27, 2006

Alarms rang and sprinklers rained down water.

Smoke from fires set by the shooter cut their vision.

As adrenaline-driven Denver police made their way deeper and deeper into the 1.3 million-square-foot Safeway warehouse Sunday, they came across terrified workers, cowering in hiding places in the endless rows of shelves and shrink-wrapped flats of grocery items.

For 68 minutes, officers threaded their way through the cavernous complex, looking for an elusive gunman who had shot five people.

At 4:24, they found him.

Or more accurately, he found them.

Police said Michael J. Ford, 22, opened fire on the officers - hitting one in the hip.

Officers returned fire, killing Ford with seven rounds. Then they turned their attention to the victims and the bloody mess left in his wake.

"To walk in there and face what (the officers) faced is, at best, confusing," Safeway spokesman Jeff Stroh said Monday. "They created order out of chaos."

Caller reported employee was shooting others

It started at 3:12 Sunday afternoon when a call for help came from the Safeway distribution center at 4600 East Stapleton Drive South. The caller reported that an employee was shooting up the building and taking down his co-workers.

As Sgt. Steve Gonzales and officers from District 2 neared the warehouse, a man who'd been shot in the hand dialed 911.

It was the first police knew that the shooter, armed with a long-barreled handgun, was still in the building.

Twelve minutes after the first call for help, Gonzales and his men entered the building. As they reached the produce cooler, the team found their first victim, who was able to walk out on his own. They evacuated more of the 152 warehouse workers, only to locate a second man who'd been shot in the head.

Paramedic Otis McKay hoisted the man over his shoulder and scrambled out of the building.

Outside, incident commander Lt. Pete Conner recalled the lessons he'd learned in training nearly four months ago. It was a similar situation, only on a smaller scale. He knew the mistakes made then and proceeded with care.

Another team of officers, headed by Robert Fitzgibbons, stormed the warehouse and continued the hunt. They swept the building, keeping it safe for others already inside.

Meanwhile, the last employee to be shot, Mauricio DeHaro, lay dead. The remaining two shooting victims holed up at the warehouse's "guard shack," where 30 to 40 co-workers cared for them.

Police think Ford began his rampage by shooting his co-workers, and then setting random fires. It was unclear Monday where he was during the hour that police looked for him in the warehouse.

In one instance, Ford lit several blazes around the break room, where employees had taken cover.

It was the last sighting of Ford until he ambushed police.

Two officers killed gunman

SWAT officers were the last to enter the building, moving into the dry goods area. That's where Ford came at them, shooting officer Derick Dominguez, 38, in the hip.

The bullets of SWAT members Ryan Grothe and James Sewald took Ford down, killing him.

"They heard Dominguez cry out and turned and saw the suspect," police Chief Gerry Whitman said. "(Ford) was unprovoked and shot officer Dominguez. We didn't have time to talk to (Ford)."

At 4:24 p.m., the gunfire had come to an end. Whitman said Ford fired 16 rounds, six of those directed at his officers. In return, SWAT shot off 17 rounds, hitting the gunman seven times.

Three employees remained hidden at the end of the ordeal and were the last to be evacuated, said Lt. Frank Conner, who heads up SWAT.

Cause bewilders family

About 12 hours later, at 4 a.m., Safeway reopened and many of the employees who ran from gunfire just a day earlier returned to work. They say it's the busiest time of the year because of the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

At the same time, investigators and Ford's family remain bewildered about what set off the 22- year-old man, who'd been working at the warehouse since February 2005.

Reports that Ford was upset about being taunted and harassed at work about his Muslim beliefs were downplayed by police and Safeway Monday, although they continue to look into all possibilities.

"I think it's important to underscore that in all of our investigations . . . we can find no problems of any kind that were brought forward involving or generated by Mr. Ford," Stroh said. "None whatsoever."

Whitman said there was no clear motive. However, he added: "(Ford) acted alone. There was no indication of any kind of plot."

Mark Moran, 37; who was shot in the head, remains in critical condition. Luis Relford, 34, was shot in the wrist and is in fair condition; John Mendoza, 27, is in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the face; and Oscar Martinez, 27, was treated for his injury and released Sunday.

On Monday, Whitman and other top-ranking cops heralded the work of the patrol officers and SWAT.

"They saved not only their own lives and their fellow officers' lives but probably the lives of innocent people that were still inside," Frank Conner said.

*****

Monday's developments

Gunman is identified as Michael Julius Ford, 22.

The Safeway Distribution Center employee killed by Ford is identified as Mauricio DeHaro, 32.

Other victims of the shooting are identified: Mark Moran, 37, hospitalized in critical condition with a head wound; John Mendoza, 27, in serious condition with a face wound; Luis Relford, 34, in fair condition with a gunshot wound to his wrist; and Oscar Martinez, 27, who was treated and released Sunday.

Police interview Ford's family to determine a motive for his rampage. Police Chief Gerry Whitman later says police don't know what triggered Ford.

Police say Ford was armed with a long-barreled handgun and fired a total of 16 rounds.

Whitman identifies the two SWAT officers who killed Ford as Ryan Grothe and James Sewald, who fired 17 rounds at Ford, hitting him seven times.

 
 

Suspect, Victims In Safeway Shooting Rampage Identified

Gunman Tentatively Identified As Michael Ford

TheDenverChannel.com

June 26, 2006

An investigation is under way to determine why a Safeway warehouse employee walked into work and opened fire on his coworkers Sunday afternoon, killing one person and injuring five, including a Denver police officer.

The suspect, identified as 22-year-old Michael Julius Ford, was shot and killed during a shootout with SWAT officers inside the massive Safeway Denver Distribution Center, located near Interstate 70 and Colorado Boulevard.

He shot randomly at coworkers, and when he shot SWAT officer Derick Dominguez, the other SWAT team heard Dominguez cry out, and fired back at Ford, police said.

"(Ford) was unprovoked and shot Officer Dominguez unprovoked. That's when the other officers came to Dominguez' aid and were shot at," Denver police Chief Gerry Whitman said at a Monday afternoon press conference. "They were exchanging quite a few rounds in there ... He shot at us six times and we returned fire 17 rounds. So, it was a gun battle that he started."

Ford was struck by seven bullets, Whitman said.

Ford was armed with a long-barreled handgun and fired a total of 16 rounds, Whitman said. He died at 4:24 p.m., 72 minutes after the first 911 call was received, Whitman said.

Who Was Michael Ford?

At the family home, located about five minutes from the Safeway plant, Ford's uncle and older brother told 7NEWS that Ford is a quiet, unassuming, responsible man who was born and raised in Denver. They don't know where he got the weapon or the anger to execute the deadly shooting.

"I never would have expected Michael ... that this would happen to Michael," said Ford's uncle, Roy Ford. "He was a good kid, never got in trouble, never gang-related that I know, and I've known him since birth. He was always a good kid that you would love to talk to and to meet."

Roy Ford said he saw his nephew a few days ago and that he showed no signs of anger or frustration about his employer or coworkers.

"I'm trying to understand what happened, and what went wrong, and it's just puzzling," Roy Ford said. "The reason why we're shocked is because it doesn't seem like it was Michael. It wasn't Michael."

His family said the actions that police describe is totally against Michael's character.

Ford has no previous criminal record except for a few minor traffic violations.

Safeway spokesman Jeff Stroh said Ford worked filling orders in the produce department and had been employed at the center since February 2005. Ford was scheduled to work Sunday and did report to work. His shift had just begun when he started firing at other employees and trying to set fires in the building, Safeway officials said.

Stroh said that there were no early signs of any trouble.

"In all of our investigations yesterday and this morning, we can find no problems of any kind that were brought forward involving Mr. Ford -- none whatsoever, " Stroh said. "No complaints to supervisors. No calls to the employee assistance program hotline. Nothing whatsover to predict this kind of outcome."

Stroh said he also had not received any complaints about Ford. He said the company has a "zero-tolerance" policy on harassment and offers a 24-hour hotline to help employees with personal or work-related issues.

The Victims

Police on Tuesday also identified the victims who were shot Sunday.

Maurico DeHaro, 32, was pronounced dead at the scene. Mark Moran, 37, remains in critical condition with a head wound. John Mendoza, 27, is hospitalized in serious condition with a face wound. Luis Relford, 34, was in fair condition and 27-year-old Oscar Martinez was treated and released. All the men all worked in the produce department at the warehouse and none of them were supervisors, Stroh said.

Relford is in fair condition with a gunshot wound to the wrist. Relford spoke to 7NEWS from his hospital bed and said there was no warning of what was about to happen. He said he was picking up his orders as usual and then felt a sharp pain in his wrist.

"It happened so quick. I wasn't thinking about the pain. I just got up and ran," Relford said.

Relford's mother told 7NEWS that her son is improving after surgery and should be OK.

"It didn't affect me until afterwards, you know. After he was in the hospital and after I went to call my son. That's when I really, kind of, broke down," said Mamie Relford, the victim's mother.

The officer who was shot in the left hip broke his leg, and remains in serious condition. Dominguez, 38, had surgery on the leg Monday morning and his condition is improving, police said.

Whitman called Dominguez a "superstar" and his SWAT supervisor said Dominguez was a high-energy enthusiastic professional who has been a member of the SWAT team for five years.

Dominguez was off-duty Sunday afternoon when the call came out for assistance at the north Denver warehouse. He left his wife and children to respond to the shooting, along with 21 other SWAT officers.

Whitman said two SWAT officers who killed Ford, 5-year SWAT member Ryan Grothe and James Sewald, who has been a SWAT member for eight to 10 years, were off-duty Monday after being interviewed by investigators Sunday night.

What Happened

The rampage started at about 3:12 p.m. when witnesses said Ford burst in to the produce area, fired at least five shots and set several small fires.

"I seen him. He was like about 20 feet away from me. He was just shooting and lighting fires. He wanted to turn the building on fire," said Safeway worker Jesus Lopez. "I just ran. Everybody just ran out."

"At that point, he started shooting everybody who was around," said Safeway employee Scott Stroman, who heard accounts of what happened through other coworkers.

About 152 people were working at the time. Some witnessed the shots and ran for their lives. Others heard the gunfire and were told to flee by coworkers and supervisors scrambling to get outside. Some employees were trapped inside and hid in various parts of the the sprawling warehouse until SWAT officers stormed the building and found the gunman.

"It was just a normal day when all of a sudden everyone was running out of the building. Everybody was just scared and running," Stroman said. "Everybody was hiding behind boxes, hiding behind walls, anything they can get, you know, behind to not get shot. Because this guy, he was just shooting everybody at random."

"We just got off our forklifts and ran to the exit door," said another Safeway worker.

The gunman started multiple fires in one location and one fire in another location, firefighters said. The sprinkler system inside the building kicked off immediately and contained most of the fires. Firefighters couldn't enter the building at first because the gunman was still at large inside.

Workers ran out of the building with their arms raised as about 50 police officers arrived with their weapons drawn and surrounded the area. Police set up a barrier around the perimeter of the warehouse and worked to pinpoint the gunman's location, which they did quickly, thanks to repeated 911 calls coming from employees still in the building.

Several groups of officers then charged inside the warehouse and then about an hour later, confronted Ford.

"There were 150 people in there we had to protect, and he was already shooting at people," Whitman said.

Whitman and Safeway management applauded the courage of the patrol and SWAT team officers who stormed the warehouse. Stroh said police officers at the scene created order out of chaos.

"They resolved the situation in which we believe was resolved in a way that minimized the casualties. We really can't say enough. We will be eternally grateful," Stroh said.

The 1.3 million-square-foot warehouse stretches several city blocks so it took officers some time to to clear the scene and make sure that there were no other suspects or victims inside. It was only after the firefight, when officers had a chance to sweep through the large warehouse, that they found DeHaro's body.

During the ordeal, employees huddled on a pile of gravel near the corner of the parking lot, waiting for the standoff between the gunman and the police to be over. Police later cut the chain link fence to get them off the property and give them more peace of mind.

The frontage road between I-70 and the building was clogged with fire trucks, police cars and RTD buses that were dispatched to shelter employees while they waited to be interviewed by police. I-70 in the area was closed in both directions for more than three hours as officers worked to clear the scene.

"I'm just lucky I'm here. You know, I'm scared, I've never been through anything like this," Stroman said. He had been just started working at the warehouse two weeks ago.

Firefighters eventually gained access to the roof and extinguished the remaining fires. Denver Fire spokesman Phil Champagne said stacked paper products were ignited in several areas. A small fire rekindled in the paper products center of the facility Monday morning but it was quickly doused by workers with a fire extinguisher.

Police said Tuesday that Ford used flammable logs to set paper products on fire. Police said Ford's fire-starting attempts were unsuccessful, but generated a lot of smoke that made the officers' work more difficult. He said the warehouse, a 1.3 million-square-foot building, is full of rows of shelves and boxes, with many hiding places

Parts of the warehouse were reopened Monday and that store officials contacted grief counselors for employees needing help. The company planned to evaluate its safety policies, Stroh said.

"Whenever workplace violence occurs, you really have to take a step back and look at what you're doing," Stroh said.

Workers said that the warehouse is usually a calm workplace, and that most people get along.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, murder is the fourth-leading cause of fatal work-place injury in the United States. In 2004, there were 551 workplace murders in the U.S., or about 10 percent of the total fatal work injuries.

 
 

Rampage At Safeway Warehouse Ends Wth 2 Dead, 5 Injured

Police Say Gunman Was Disgruntled Employee

TheDenverChannel

June 25, 2006

A gunman who opened fire inside a Safeway Distribution Center Sunday afternoon, killing one person and injuring five, was shot to death after a confrontation with police, 7NEWS reported.

"The officers confronted the suspect who was armed with the handgun. He fired at us, we fired at him," said Denver police Chief Gerry Whitman.

After the standoff and confrontation with the gunman ended, officers searched the 1.3 million-square-foot building and found the body of one employee who was apparently shot to death.

Four other employees were taken to the hospital. Two are in critical condition, one person is in serious condition and one person is in fair condition. A Denver police officer who was shot in the leg during the confrontation was also taken to the hospital in serious condition. His injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.

The shooting occurred at about 3 p.m. inside the Safeway Denver Distribution Center on the 4600 block of East Stapleton Drive, near the intersection of Interstate 70 and Colorado Boulevard.

Witnesses said a disgruntled employee walked in to the produce area, fired at least five shots and tried to set several fires.

"I seen him. He was like about 20 feet away from me. He was just shooting and lighting fires. He wanted to turn the building on fire," said Safeway worker Jesus Lopez. "I just ran. Everybody just ran out."

"We just got off our forklifts and ran to the exit door," said another Safeway worker.

The gunman started multiple fires in one location and one fire in another location. The sprinkler system inside the building kicked off immediately and contained most of the fires. Firefighters couldn't enter the building because the gunman was still at large inside, 7NEWS reported.

Workers ran out of the building as about 50 police officers arrived with their weapons drawn and surrounded the area. Police set up a barrier around the perimeter of the store and worked to get the gunman and the other employees out of the building.

The warehouse is massive -- stretching several city blocks -- so it took officers some time to find the gunman, and then later, to clear the scene to make sure that there were no other suspects or victims were inside.

During that time, employees huddled on a pile of gravel near the corner of the lot, waiting for the standoff between the gunman and the police to be over and to learn when they could reenter.

The shooting prompted police to shut down Interstate 70 in the area until 5 p.m.

The identities of the suspect and the victim have not been released.

The motive for the shooting is unclear.

 
 


Michael Julius Ford

 

 

 
 
 
 
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