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Wesley Neal HIGDON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


The Atlantis Plastics shooting
 
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: After arguing with his supervisor
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: June 25, 2008
Date of birth: 1982
Victims profile: Kevin G. Taylor, 40 (his supervisor) / Joshua Hinojosa, 28; Trisha Mirelez, 25; Israel Monroy, 29, and Rachael Vasquez, 26 (co-workers)
Method of murder: Shooting (.45-caliber pistol)
Location: Henderson, Kentucky, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day
 
 
 
 
 
 
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The Atlantis Plastics shooting was an incident of mass murder that took place at an Atlantis Plastics factory in Henderson, Kentucky, United States on June 25, 2008. The gunman, 25-year-old Wesley Neal Higdon, shot and killed five people and critically injured a sixth person before taking his own life.

Events prior to the shooting

Henderson police said that the shooter, who had a reputation for being difficult, had argued with supervisor Kevin Taylor and was being escorted out of the factory by the supervisor. The shooter apparently retrieved a handgun, shot the supervisor, then went back into the factory and shot five co-workers before turning the gun on himself.

Subsequent reports indicate that Taylor had reprimanded Higdon twice before the shooting, once for talking on his cell phone too much and for not wearing safety glasses, then later for an altercation with co-worker Joshua Hinojosa at a convenience store across the street from the factory.

Details of the shooting

Victims and Higdon were shot with a .45-caliber pistol. Taylor was apparently shot by Higdon outside the factory, then four more workers in the factory's break room, and finally Hinojosa from behind on the factory floor. Higdon then committed suicide.

Victims

Deceased

  • Wesley Neal Higdon, gunman, 25, of Henderson
  • Joshua Hinojosa, co-worker, 28, of Sebree
  • Trisha Mirelez, co-worker, 25, of Sebree
  • Israel Monroy, co-worker, 29, of Henderson
  • Kevin G. Taylor, supervisor, 40, of Dixon
  • Rachael Vasquez, co-worker, 26, of Sebree

Injured

  • Noelia Monroy, co-worker, of Henderson

Comparisons

The shooting is the worst in the history of Henderson County, Kentucky in terms of numbers of victims, surpassing triple homicides in 1799 and 1955.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

Ky. gunman argued with boss over phone, goggles

By Ryan Lenz, Associated Press Writer

Wed June 25, 2008

HENDERSON, Ky. - A 25-year-old press operator shot and killed five co-workers and himself at a plastics plant in rural western Kentucky just hours after arguing with his supervisor about not wearing safety goggles and using his cell phone while on the assembly line, police said Wednesday.

Authorities said Wesley N. Higdon of Henderson was so riled by the argument with his supervisor that he called his girlfriend and told her that he wanted to kill his boss. The girlfriend didn't warn anyone, police said, and just two hours later, Higdon argued with another co-worker then shot and killed his supervisor as they walked outside. Then, he returned and shot at co-workers in a break room and on the plant floor.

A man who called 911 frantically described the violent scene to a dispatcher, tallying up the number of dead around him.

"There's more than two people dead. There's like one, two, three, four, five people dead," the man said. "The supervisor is dead, too."

Authorities said Higdon was known to keep a .45-caliber pistol in his car, which is not illegal in Kentucky.

The first shooting took place as the supervisor was escorting him from the building. Other co-workers were shot in the break room and on the plant floor. One worker was injured and was being treated in the critical care unit at St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Center in Evansville, Ind.

"He just walked in, looked like he meant business and started shooting at everybody," Henderson Police Sgt. John Nevels said at a news conference.

The killings stunned the Ohio River town of about 28,000 people, where a local leader said many residents know or are related to a worker at the plant. The plant, operated by Atlanta-based Atlantis plastics, employs about 160 people and makes parts for refrigerators and plastic siding for homes.

Henderson County Coroner Bruce Farmer identified the supervisor as Kevin G. Taylor, 30, of Dixon. The slain co-workers were Trisha Mirelez, 25, Rachael Vasquez, 26, and Joshua Hinojosa, 28, all of Sebree; and Israel Monroy, 29, of Henderson. The hospitalized survivor was identified as Monroy's sister, Noelia Monroy.

"Our whole community is in shock," Henderson County Judge-Executive Sandy Watkins said.

The plant sent employees home Wednesday, but the company said that it hoped to resume limited operations at night. Atlantis Plastics CEO Bud Philbrook told The Associated Press that the company was reeling.

"It's just total shock. It's something you read about in the paper," Philbrook said.

Investigators were trying to piece together the timing of the shooting spree. Philbrook said that Higdon didn't appear to have any previous disciplinary problems at the plant.

Four of the victims were members of St. Michael's Catholic Church in Sebree, Ky., said the Rev. Jason McClure, who had spent much of the morning with the victims' families.

"They are very upset and hurting deeply and just trying to figure out what to do next," McClure said.

Atlantis Plastics said on its Web site that it is a leading U.S. manufacturer of three kinds of products: polyethylene stretch films for wrapping pallets of materials, custom films for industrial and packaging uses and molded plastic pieces used in products such as appliances and recreational vehicles.

The company has annual sales of $110 million, according to business directory Hoovers.

"This is a devastating loss to this community which we have been a part of for more than 40 years," Philbrook said in a statement late Wednesday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and we will work with them to provide our help and support."

 
 

Police say argument with supervisor led to deadly workplace shooting

By Scott Harvey - Wave3.com

June 26, 2008

Henderson, KY - Six people are dead and one wounded after a workplace shooting in Henderson, Ky. It happened at the Atlantis Plastics Plant early Wednesday morning. The shooter is among the dead. WAVE 3's Scott Harvey has more on what investigators say caused the man to pull the trigger.

We're told it all started with an argument between 25-year-old Wesley Neal Higdon and his supervisor. Investigators say Higdon even called his girlfriend to tell her what he was about to do.

It was just after midnight when the first call came in.

911 Call:

DISPATCHER: Henderson 911. What's your emergency?

CALLER: We need, uh, an ambulance please. A guy just killed himself and killed another employee at Atlantis Plastics.

But the caller phoned again, realizing it was much worse.

911 Call:

CALLER:  I called earlier from Atlantis Plastics.

DISPATCHER:  Yes, sir.

CALLER:  There is more than two people dead.

DISPATCHER:  OK.

CALLER:  There's like one, two, three, four, five people dead.

DISPATCHER:  Is anyone alive? 

CALLER:  Supervisor is dead too.            

DISPATCHER:  Is anyone alive? 

CALLER:  Yeah, there is people alive. One is breathing.

In all, six people dead. Among them, 25-year-old Wesley Neal Higdon, the man police say planned to pull the trigger.

"The suspect in this case, he called his girlfriend about two hours before the shooting and advised her that he was going to kill his boss at the plant," said Henderson Police Sgt. John Nevels.

Investigators say Higdon had an argument with his supervisor earlier in the evening for talking on his cell phone and not wearing safety classes while on the job. Later that evening, police say Higdon fought with a fellow co-worker at a nearby convenience store. Sgt. Nevels says the security video clearly shows what Higdon did next, when he returned to work.

"It's difficult to believe that somebody can just randomly go in there and start killing people," said Sgt. Nevels. "Especially since there is no real reason for it. So it was difficult to watch, but I mean he just walked in, looked like he meant business, and started shooting at everybody.

Police say Higdon first went looking for his supervisor, 30-year-old Kevin Taylor, and shot and killed him outside the building. Next, investigators say Higdon went inside the plant and shot four more co-workers in the break room.

Finally, Higdon hunted down the co-worker he fought with earlier that night, 28-year-old Joshua Hynojosa. He found him on the plant's floor, where he shot and killed him, then turned the gun on himself, according to police.

For this small business, where plant officials say everyone was like family, the senseless killings are just sinking in.

"As a personal note, I hope none of you ever have to go through something like this," said plant manager Dean Jorgensen, breaking into tears. "This is the worst day of my life."

 
 

Witnesses describe chaotic scene at Ky. plant

By Ryan Lenz - Associated Press

June 26, 2008

It was swift and chaotic, witnesses said, as the plastics plant worker with a determined look opened fire, killing five co-workers then himself in rural western Kentucky.

Police said Wesley N. Higdon, 25, shot his supervisor outside the plant, then went inside and kept shooting. When the gunfire ended, one of Higdon's co-workers was dead, four others were dying and he had committed suicide.

A witness who hid behind a wall when the gunfire started said a bullet struck a water line, spraying water all over the plant.

"When I heard the gunshots, I thought it was something electrical," said plant worker Mark Singery. "When I peeked back out, I saw (him) lying there dead."

The facility closed for most of the day but reopened for limited production Wednesday night, plant manager Dean Jorgensen said Thursday.

The shooting occurred hours after an argument between Higdon and his supervisor over his not wearing safety goggles and using his cell phone while on the assembly line, police said. Higdon, 25, of Henderson, was so riled by the argument that he called his girlfriend and told her that he wanted to kill his boss, according to police.

The girlfriend didn't warn anyone, police said, and just two hours later he argued with another co-worker at a gas station near the plant, then returned and shot and killed his supervisor as they walked outside. He went back inside and shot at co-workers in a break room and on the plant floor.

"He just walked in, looked like he meant business and started shooting at everybody," Henderson Police Sgt. John Nevels said at a news conference.

Authorities said Higdon was known to keep a .45-caliber pistol in his car, which is not illegal in Kentucky.

Higdon's girlfriend, Teresa Solano Ventura, said through an interpreter that she was not aware that Higdon carried a gun in his car, The Gleaner of Henderson reported. She also said Higdon had threatened to kill himself, not his supervisor.

"He said to her that he was going to kill himself," Abby Valasquez told the newspaper, translating for her cousin, who does not speak English well.

Ventura described Higdon, with whom she has a 7-month-old son, as generous and "a good person," the newspaper said.

One worker was injured and was being treated in the critical care unit at St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Center in Evansville, Ind.

The killings stunned the Ohio River town of about 28,000 people, where a local leader said many residents know or are related to a worker at the plant. The plant, operated by Atlanta-based Atlantis Plastics, employs about 160 people and makes parts for refrigerators and plastic siding for homes.

At a prayer service Wednesday night, residents gathered to mourn the victims, some weeping softly and carrying roses.

"Our whole community is in shock," Henderson County Judge-Executive Sandy Watkins said.

Henderson County Coroner Bruce Farmer identified the supervisor as Kevin G. Taylor, 30, of Dixon. The slain co-workers were Trisha Mirelez, 25, Rachael Vasquez, 26, and Joshua Hinojosa, 28, all of Sebree; and Israel Monroy, 29, of Henderson. The hospitalized survivor was identified as Monroy's sister, Noelia Monroy.

Noelia Monroy was listed in good condition on Thursday, hospital spokeswoman Cheryl Dauble said.

Investigators were trying to piece together the timing of the shooting spree. Philbrook said Higdon didn't appear to have any previous disciplinary problems at the plant.

Four of the victims were members of St. Michael's Catholic Church in Sebree, Ky., said the Rev. Jason McClure, who had spent much of the morning with the victims' families.

"They are very upset and hurting deeply and just trying to figure out what to do next," McClure said.

 
 

Ky. plant gunman known as friend, troublemaker

By Ryan Lenz - Associated Press

Fri, Jun. 27, 2008

Some in the hometown of a man who opened fire at a plastics plant described him as a "good kid," while others called him a troublemaker and said Thursday that they weren't surprised when he killed himself and five others.

Wesley N. Higdon was prone to retreating inward during long walks around this rural town about 120 miles west of Louisville, said Ann Rigdon, 31, of Dixon, who knew Higdon in high school and called him "weird."

Police said Higdon, 25, shot his supervisor outside the plant in nearby Henderson early Wednesday after an argument, then went inside and shot and killed four others before turning the gun on himself. A sixth shooting victim survived.

"He was kind of a loner - and if he hung out with people, they were nothing but trouble," Rigdon said.

The shooting occurred hours after an argument with his supervisor so riled Higdon that he called his girlfriend late Tuesday and told her that he wanted to kill his boss, according to police. The girlfriend didn't warn anyone, police said, and Higdon returned to the plant and began shooting.

Teresa Solano Ventura, 20, said Higdon threatened to kill himself Tuesday while they were on the phone, but he had made such threats before and she didn't believe him.

Ventura found out he was dead early Wednesday morning when she turned on the news. "I cried," she told reporters outside the apartment in Henderson, Ky., she shared with Higdon.

Not all were surprised by the shootings, including Rhonda Carter, 27, who knew Higdon from school.

"He was the kind that got in trouble all the time. He was always mischievous. He was kind of weird. When they said he was the shooter, I was not shocked," said Carter, who works for a cleaning service in Dixon.

Henderson County Coroner Bruce Farmer identified Higdon's supervisor as Kevin G. Taylor, 30, of Dixon. The other slain co-workers were Trisha Mirelez, 25, Rachael Vasquez, 26, and Joshua Hinojosa, 28, all of Sebree; and Israel Monroy, 29, of Henderson. The hospitalized survivor was identified as Monroy's sister, Noelia Monroy.

She was listed in good condition Thursday at St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Center in Evansville, Ind., hospital spokeswoman Cheryl Dauble said.

The plastics plant was closed after the shootings, but reopened for limited production Wednesday night, said plant manager Dean Jorgensen. A telephone message seeking further comment at the plant wasn't immediately returned Thursday.

The families of four of the victims spent Thursday at Townsend Funeral Home in Sebree, Ky., preparing for weekend memorial services and declined interviews, said the Rev. Jason McClure, several of the victims' pastor.

The killings stunned the Ohio River town of about 28,000 people, where a local leader said many residents know or are related to a worker at the plant. The plant, operated by Atlanta-based Atlantis Plastics, employs about 160 people and makes parts for refrigerators and plastic siding for homes.

Police said Higdon was arrested once for marijuana possession and again for driving while drunk, but never for anything violent.

Maxine Duncan knew Higdon as a boy when he was friends with her grandson and never imagined him capable of such a horrendous attack.

"He was a good kid. I never saw him do a thing," Duncan said. "I never would have thought of him doing something like that.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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