By Jean Marbella, Erika Butler, Jessica Anderson, Colin Campbell, BaltimoreSun.com
A temporary employee at a Rite Aid distribution center in Harford County fatally shot three co-workers and injured three others before killing herself Thursday morning, police said.
The shooting in Perryman, an unincorporated area of the county near Aberdeen, was one of three to erupt in U.S. workplaces in the space of 24 hours and came less than a year after a gunman killed three fellow employees at another Harford County business.
Police identified the Rite Aid shooter as Snochia Moseley, 26, who lived in the White Marsh neighborhood of Baltimore County, and said she died in an area hospital where she had been taken. Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler declined to release the names the victims, saying families were still being notified of their deaths.
The gun used in the shooting, a 9 mm Glock handgun, was registered and owned by Moseley, he said.
Employees were shot both inside and outside the distribution center, Gahler said. The motive for the shooting is not yet known.
Dispatchers received a report of shots fired at the distribution center at 9:06 a.m., Gahler said, and police and emergency personnel arrived just over five minutes later.
As reports of the shooting circulated, relatives of workers rushed to the area or tried to reach them by phone. Those who were successful said workers told them gunfire suddenly rang out, sending many diving for cover even as they saw their fellow employees struck and falling to the ground.
Others couldn’t reach their loved ones, and only learned later in the afternoon that they had not been hurt when buses brought them to a makeshift reunification center at the Level Volunteer Fire Co. in Havre de Grace.
Andre Cedeno had rushed from his own workplace 25 minutes away to try to see his sister, who was in her second week on the job at the Rite Aid center. Cedeno said she told him she ran inside and hid in a bathroom.
“She had a panic,” Cedeno said. “It’s crazy that people don’t respect life.”
Rite Aid employs 1,000 full-time, 300 temporary and 30 part-time employees between two distribution facilities in Perryman.
The drug store chain is the largest tenant in its building at Enterprise Business Park where the shooting occurred. Other tenants in the building include Maines Paper & Food, a New York-based food service distributor, and Zenith Global Logistics, a trucking company. Clorox has a distribution operation in a building across the parking lot.
Pete Strella, Rite Aid’s manager of communications, said the retailer closed the center and is assessing when to reopen it. Clorox also halted its operations.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in this tragic incident, as well as their loved ones,” Strella said in an email.
Gahler said multiple agencies responded, and no law enforcement officers fired shots. The FBI Baltimore office and special agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also were assisting in the investigation.
Two people died on the scene. Four people were taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore and one to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del. Two died, including the shooter, at Bayview. The other three had non-life-threatening injuries, officials said.
The shootings mark the latest spasm of gun violence to beset Maryland and other parts of the country. In June, a gunman stormed the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, killing five staff members. Jarrod Ramos, a Laurel man with a grudge against The Capital, is awaiting trial on 23 charges. In March, a student at Great Mills High School in Southern Maryland shot and killed a 16-year-old classmate and injured a 14-year old boy.
And Thursday’s shootings come just 11 months after three co-workers were killed at a kitchen countertop company in Edgewood, less than 10 miles away. Two fellow employees were also injured in the October 2017 attack.
“We stand here yet again,” Gahler said Thursday as he updated the media.
The Edgewood victims’ co-worker, Radee L. Prince, is awaiting trial in Maryland on murder and firearm charges; he was convicted of attempted manslaughter and other charges for the shooting of a business owner in Wilmington, Del., following the killings in Edgewood. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the Delaware shooting.
On Thursday, the Rite Aid center became the third U.S. workplace to erupt in gunfire in the past 24 hours.
“Three workplace active shooting attacks in just the last 24 hours should spark outrage in every American,” former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said in a statement Thursday. Giffords was shot in the head at a “Congress on Your Corner” event outside a grocery store in the Tucson area in 2011 and has become an anti-gun violence activist.
“If gun violence feels like it’s become an everyday occurrence, that’s because it is,” she said. “But every time you hear news of another shooting, remind yourself that this level of gun violence is not normal. No other developed nation experiences this kind of daily heartbreak and horror.”
Around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, four people were shot at a software company, WTS Paradigm, in Middleton, Wis., by a 43-year-old co-worker, police said. The gunman was shot and killed by police. Three of the injured were in serious condition as of Thursday morning, one suffered a graze wound.
Then, around 2 p.m., four people including a police officer were shot after a man opened fire outside a judge’s office in a municipal building in Masontown, Pa. The suspect, Patrick Dowdell, 61, was shot and killed by police. Dowdell had a preliminary hearing scheduled for Wednesday on domestic charges of strangulation, aggravated assault and terroristic threats from an incident several weeks ago, according to news reports.
Gov. Larry Hogan said he had been “closely monitoring” the Harford County situation during the day.
“The First Lady and I are grieving for the loss of life in today’s shooting in Harford County, and praying that those who were injured fully recover,” he said in a tweet. “I remain in close contact with Harford County officials and state and local law enforcement as they continue to investigate.”
Church Creek Elementary School, a few miles away from the shooting scene, had been placed on a modified lockdown Thursday.
When a bus pulled up to the reunification center with Rite Aid workers on board, joy broke out as those waiting outside spotted familiar faces. One woman ran forward with outstretched arms and shouted in glee.
Reggie Rodriguez, 43, and his wife, Kelly, had waited all morning for word about his mother, who worked in the center. The wait was excruciating, they said. Kelly started calling her cellphone at 10:30 a.m. after hearing the news about the shooting. No answer.
“I kept calling over and over and over again,” Kelly said.
Finally, she got an answer, and handed the phone to Reggie for a brief but welcome conversation.
“He just wanted to hear her voice,” Kelly said.
Thursday evening, about a mile from the site of the shooting, the small Cranberry United Methodist Church opened its doors to the community to come and grieve.
While soft music played inside the church and a few people lit candles, pastor Tiffany Patterson said that although no one in her congregation was injured in the shooting, it still affects them.
“When one part of the body suffers, we all suffer,” she said.
Patterson said she also works at a church close to the site of the workplace shooting last year in Edgewood. Her church also sponsored a prayer service then.
Thursday’s shooting, she said, was “almost deja vu.”
Baltimore Sun reporters Talia Richman, Liz Bowie, Lillian Reed, Christina Tkacik and Baltimore Sun Media Group reporter Ted Hendricks contributed to this article.