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Six Dead After Fired Employee Goes On Rampage in Auto Parts Warehouse

By Jodi Wilgoren

THE NEW YORK TIMES

CHICAGO

A man with a long but low-level arrest record returned on Wednesday morning to the small auto supply warehouse from which he was fired six months ago, killing six of its nine employees.

The police said that the man, Salvador Tapia, 36, traded gunfire with officers twice outside the South Side warehouse, known as Windy City Core Supply, and again inside its door before being killed by one of their bullets. Two employees narrowly escaped. One who had been tied up by Tapia freed himself and called 911. The company’s president, late to work while taking his daughter to school, also survived.

“It appears he went throughout the supply warehouse shooting them -- they were not all in one place,” said Philip Cline, the acting superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, describing the warehouse as a crowded maze of engine parts, 55-gallon drums, crates and steel containers. “There’s really only one way out and one way in other than overhead doors. Once he’s inside and by that front door, he’s got them cornered.”

Though the victims were not identified by the police on Wednesday night, friends said that two brothers who were the other officers of the company, Alan and Howard Weiner, were presumed dead. The police said that Tapia had made threatening phone calls to the company’s owners since his dismissal for poor performance, but that no police reports were ever filed.

“These are not mean people, these are nice people,” said Richard Glickman, a lawyer who had done some work for the company and had known the Howard Weiner since they were “club brothers” at Senn High School on Chicago’s North Side four decades ago. “They didn’t have a lot of employees to begin with. I have no idea what happened here. We’ll probably never know.”

Windy City, whose corporate entity is HAR Investment, started up in 1998, according to government records, and has annual sales of about $600,000. It buys used auto parts and resells them to wholesalers.

Cline said the incident began shortly after 8:30 a.m., when the police responded to a call of shots fired at the warehouse in Bridgeport, a neighborhood where light industry is surrounded by neat town homes and small apartment buildings, and where two generations of mayors named Daley lived most of their lives. About 30 officers from Chicago’s Hostage, Barricade and Terrorist team soon swarmed the scene.

Speaking at an afternoon news conference at police headquarters, which is only about a dozen blocks from the warehouse, Cline said Tapia shot at the officers with a .380-caliber automatic handgun, then retreated into the building, emerged shooting again and disappeared again.