One Dead, Gunman Apprehended in Orlando Shooting Spree
ORLANDO, Fla. - Mike Maurer heard two bangs, but at first he thought the noise came from construction work at the downtown Gateway Center.
It wasn't until the lawyer and his secretary smelled gunpowder in the hallway of the Orlando building that they realized what had happened at the adjacent offices of Reynolds, Smith and Hills.
There, according to police, Jason Rodriguez opened fire Friday on his former co-workers at the engineering firm, killing one person and wounding five.
The shootings occurred less than 24 hours after authorities said an Army psychiatrist shot 43 people at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas, killing 13.
"You just don't expect it to happen so close to home," said Maurer, an attorney whose office went into lockdown for about half an hour after Friday's shootings.
Orlando police have not released the victims' names. But Police Chief Val Demings said the five survivors were in stable condition Friday evening.
Camille Previlon told The Associated Press that her uncle, engineer Guy Lungenbel, was shot in the back and was able to talk but had not said much about the shooting.
"He is stable," Previlon told the AP. "He's just hurting real bad in the back."
Authorities do not yet know why Rodriguez, 40, of Orlando might have unleashed on the engineering firm. Rodriguez worked as an intern there for a year until he was fired in 2007, Orlando Police Sgt. Barbara Jones said.
"They left me to rot," Rodriguez told reporters as he was led in handcuffs into the police department.
Federal court records show that Rodriguez filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May and that he concluded proceedings a little more than a month ago. He was divorced and had lost his home to foreclosure.
At 11:45 a.m. EST Friday, Orlando police responded to reports of gunfire at the Gateway Center, located on the edge of the city's downtown. When they arrived, officers heard more gunshots. They began evacuating the building and called for backup, which included FBI agents and SWAT team members armed with assault weapons.
Not knowing the shooter's whereabouts, police shut down a section of Interstate 4, which runs through downtown, and cordoned off several city blocks surrounding the building in an attempt to find Rodriguez, whom witnesses identified as the shooter.
Maurer, the attorney whose office shares a wall with the engineering firm, said he was working on his computer when he heard the bangs, then yells.
"No one thought (anything) of it," he said.
There had been construction under way in the 16-story building. The shooting occurred on the eighth floor.
The pieces came together for Maurer when he walked into the hallway to go to lunch, smelled the burned gunpowder and saw a UPS delivery man run from neighboring offices.
"From there, it was complete chaos," he said.
Maurer and fellow employees from his law offices went into lockdown mode. Police kept in contact with the law firm employees by phone, updating them every few minutes until officers were able to evacuate them.
Maurer said he did not personally know the employees of the engineering firm, but that he recognized many of them by sight.
He had never seen Rodriguez until his picture flashed on television after he was taken from the building.
Rodriguez's mother contacted police after seeing his photo and hearing a vehicle description.
Orlando SWAT officers arrested Rodriguez without incident at 2:15 p.m. outside his mother's home.
Neighbors said swarms of officers surrounded the apartment with their weapons drawn and waited for Rodriguez to come out.
Yahaira Milkez, 19, said she was inside her apartment - just a few feet away from Rodriguez's mother's apartment - when she heard officers yell for the suspect to come outside. Milkez had never met Rodriguez.
She saw Rodriguez exit about five minutes later.
"He looked like he had no feeling," Milkez said. "He just had his head down."