1 dead in suicide at Lockheed Martin main gate; suspicious device found in car
WHITE SETTLEMENT, Texas - Federal and local authorities responded to the Lockheed Martin plant on the west side of Fort Worth Thursday morning after a deadly shooting incident.
It happened around 5:30 a.m. at the plant on Spur 341 and Clifford Street, which is near the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base.
White Settlement police said a distraught man in his 60s apparently tried to get through the main gate during a shift change. That man shot himself in his car after being stopped by security.
"Part of training we have for our security team is when we have people who come who try and enter our facility and they don't have a badge for example, they ascertain what the person may be doing. And in this case, you might have heard some response that we were challenging him. Basically we were seeing that the individual was distraught and tried to calm the individual down to find out exactly what that individual was here for and that's when the rest of it all took place," said Ken Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin.
No shots were fired by security and no one else was hurt, police said.
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"The preliminary information that we have is that it appeared this man was in distress, some type of distress," White Settlement Police Chief Christopher Cook said. "They did not know why, number one, he was trying to gain access. Even the preliminary identification we have would be that he cannot access this facility."
An unmanned robotic unit was deployed to examine the man’s vehicle for possible explosives, a precaution that was based on his ramblings before police say he took his own life.
The main gate is still closed, and federal agents were called in the help with the investigation because a suspicious briefcase was spotted on the back seat of the man’s car.
"The briefcase that was in the backseat has been x-rayed, there were no suspicious devices inside it," Cook said.
Police said the man also exchanged words with security and the nature of the conversation made them feel an FBI investigation was warranted.
"The rhetoric he was engaging conversation in made them very suspicious that he may have a device in the vehicle based on the comments he was making," said White Settlement Police Chief Chris Cook.
With federal agencies quickly involved, investigators took even further precautions at other unspecified locations.
"We do know who we believe the suspect to be preliminarily. We went to several locations that he’s had access to prior, homes and residences, to make sure there were no other threats to not only our community but other communities. We found there are no other threats," Cook explained.
As a defense contractor with nearly 20,000 employees and the F-35 Fighter Jet Project, the Lockheed plant keeps a highly visible security presence at all times.
As for a possible motive and why the man approached the main entrance, those are details investigators must work to uncover.
"I will say that our security force is trained to observe different things, different mannerisms," Ross said. "Obviously, if they see a weapon in the car, that is the red flag and that was the situation here."
Video from FOX 4 showed a robot and members of the bomb squad checking out the car to determine if it was safe.
Employees of the global aerospace and security company are being directed to other entrances until the main gate reopens.
"We are saddened by this isolated incident. Our employees and facilities are safe due to our security protocols working as designed. We are coordinating closely with the authorities and additional questions should be directed to the local police department," Lockheed Martin said in a statement.
If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line).
CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide. Call 1-800-273-TALK for free and confidential emotional support.