Shooter's Girlfriend Interrupts Memorial Service

The girlfriend of the man who killed five co-workers before committing suicide at a factory here this week interrupted a memorial service Thursday, saying: "He was a human being, too.''

"Excuse me. Don't criticize this man,'' Shirley Price told some 600 people gathered to remember the victims of Tuesday's shooting rampage at a Lockheed Martin plant north of Meridian.

Price, who also had worked at the plant, stood as Meridian Mayor Robert Smith told the First Baptist Church gathering that the actions of one man did not reflect the attitude of the community. Nine people also were injured in the attack.

Williams, a 48-year-old assembly-line worker at the aircraft parts plant, had attended a business ethics meeting on how to get along with co-workers Tuesday morning. He left and returned with a shotgun and rifle and began gunning down his co-workers.

Price waved the service's program, which included the names of those who were killed and wounded, and said, "his name was not on here... he was a victim too.''

The mayor did not mention Williams when he read a list of victims.

Price, who broke into tears and was escorted out of the First Baptist Church, described Williams as "a kind and loving human being.'' Several of those attending the memorial service stood and applauded after Price made her remarks.

Price told The Associated Press that Williams had "felt like everybody was against him,'' knew he had problems and had tried for more than a year to get help from company officials who ignored him. Price said Williams had been taking medicine for depression and high blood pressure.

He was buried earlier Thursday in a private ceremony in Meridian, Price said.

Dain Hancock, president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said Wednesday that company officials knew of at least two prior incidents involving Williams over his 19-year career there.

Williams, who was white, had undergone anger counseling at least once in the past couple of years, frustrated because he thought black people had a leg up in society, co-workers said. Four of his five victims were black, while a majority of the injured were white.

During the lengthy memorial service, speakers pointed to the gathering as a sign of a community, black and white, pulling together.

"We as a community, no matter what color we may be, we can come together,'' the Rev. Roderick Steele, pastor of New Era Baptist Church, said. "We need you right now Lord like we've never needed you before.''

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)