Employee Fatally Shoots Co-Worker, Injures Wife, Kills Self

Friday, April 27th 2007, 5:12 pm
By: News On 6

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) _ An employee opened fire at a wastewater treatment plant Friday, seriously wounding his estranged wife and killing a man before committing suicide, police said.

Co-workers described the shooting as the result of a love triangle, police said.

Steven Harold Smith, 50, entered the administrative part of the Lode Street Wastewater Facility about 7 a.m., said Sheriff's Sgt. Fred Plageman. Mike Sotelo, 41, the supervisor for office administration, was shot in his office and died at the scene.

Smith then went outside and shot his wife while she was in her car. She tried to drive away but hit a tree, Plageman said. Tamara Smith, 45, was in grave condition.

Two handguns were recovered at the scene, but Plageman wouldn't comment on who owned them.

Steven Smith was the pump station maintenance supervisor, and his wife was a maintenance worker. The two were getting divorced, Plageman said.

Investigators couldn't immediately confirm a romantic relationship between Sotelo and Tamara Smith, but believe the gunman may have been angered because Sotelo was trying to act as an intermediary between the couple, Plageman said.

About 40 people work at the Lode Street plant, which processes sewage and is operated by the Santa Cruz County Sanitation District.