Jan 7, 2010 12:45 PM by MSNBC
Three people are dead and five have been wounded after a man armed with an assault rifle and a handgun opened fire at a St. Louis manufacturing plant.
Police Capt. Sam Dotson confirmed the number but did not have names. Authorities haven't confirmed whether one of the eight was the gunman.
Citing two unidentified sources, NBC station KSDK reported that the suspect had been "found and removed from the building." The gunman is believed to have shot himself, according to the report.
Fire Department spokesman Bob Keuss identified the suspected shooter as Timothy Herndon, of Webster Groves, Mo. Dotson said Herndon is an employee of the plant.
KMOX radio said Herndon had worked for the company for 23 years.
The rampage began around 6:30 a.m. during a shift change at Swiss-based ABB Group's plant in St. Louis and 40 to 50 people were likely in the plant at the time, Dotson said.
As shots began to ring out, employees scurried to find safety, authorities said.
"Many of them sought safety on the roof, in boilers and broom closets," Dotson said.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper reported some employees ran to the building's rooftop to escape the gunfire while another man barricaded himself in a maintenance room.
A two-mile perimeter was established around the plant and Interstate 70 was shut down.
'Financial losses and damages'
The Post-Dispatch reported that the suspect was a plaintiff in a class-action federal lawsuit against ABB its pension review committee over financial losses.
According to court documents available online, the suit alleged "breach of fiduciary duty."
The complaint alleged a "campaign of non-disclosure, concealment and misrepresentation" that resulted in "excessive fees and expenses from their 401(k) accounts." It claimed the plaintiffs had "suffered financial losses and damages, and have been deprived of the opportunity to receive market returns."
At 7:15 a.m. local time, one victim hiding in the plant called police to say he had been shot in the stomach, leg and arm, the paper reported. The man said he was with another shooting victim, a man who was unconscious and not breathing.
One victim was found on the 10th floor of the building, according to KSDK. The St. Louis Fire Department set up a staging area near the plant with six ambulances on standby.
Bob Fethmier, a spokesman for ABB Power, told NBC News that "we are in touch with some of the folks in the building."
"Police are sweeping through area and taking people out as they go," he added.
According to the Post-Dispatch, police had been told the shooter was carrying an ammunition belt.
Ronald D. Bartram, a neighbor of Herndon, said the suspect was a hunter who owned guns.
"I am very upset," he told the Post-Dispatch. "He is a good man."
Swiss-based ABB Group makes power transmission and industrial automation equipment. The company manufactures transformers at the St. Louis site, according to its Web site.
ABB has operations in roughly 100 countries, employing about 120,000 people. Last October, ABB reported third-quarter earnings of more than $1 billion.