Pa. Plant Slay Suspect Found Dead

Thursday, March 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

EAST GREENVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A man who opened fire at a furniture plant where he worked, killing a manager, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Thursday.

Wednesday's fatal workplace shooting was one of two in the nation that day.

Michael J. Tompkins, 23, was found dead in his car parked off a state highway a couple of miles from the plant, the Montgomery County district attorney's office said.

Scott Peters, 42, was killed in the shooting Wednesday night at Knoll Inc., police said.

The shooting appeared to have followed a workplace dispute, police said. Tompkins left the plant briefly before shooting at employees in a supervisor's office, they said.

``There were three people in the office when he storms in,'' said District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. ``He shoots to death the one manager. The other supervisor and another worker happened to be there, fled into another office. He shot at them through a glass window and missed.''

A co-worker said Tompkins had appeared to be agitated earlier Wednesday.

``We noticed his mood change,'' Melissa Burke said. ``I said `Hi' to him and he didn't say `Hi' back.''

The plant, about 35 miles northwest of Philadelphia, manufactures office furniture.

In North Carolina, a man recently fired from PPG Industries ambushed employees at the plant's parking lot Wednesday evening, killing one man to death and injuring another, police said.

Mike Champion died at a hospital shortly after the shooting about 40 miles west of Charlotte.

The suspect, Brandon Eugene Smith, 20, was shot by police who chased him after spotting his truck later Wednesday, police said. He was in critical condition Thursday with a head wound.

Smith will be charged with first-degree murder if he lives, Cleveland County Sheriff Dan Crawford said Thursday.

Champion and another man were walking toward the plant when Smith drove up to them in his pickup truck and shot them, Crawford said.