Girlfriend of factory killer interrupts memorial service

Friday, July 11, 2003

MERIDIAN, Miss. -- The girlfriend of the factory worker who killed five fellow employees this week interrupted a memorial service Thursday by standing up in the church and saying the gunman also should be viewed as a victim.

As the mayor said the actions of one man did not reflect the attitude of the community, Shirley Price stood and spoke: "Excuse me. Don't criticize this man. He was a human being, too."

Price waved the service's program, which included the names of those who were killed and wounded, and said, "his name was not on here ... He was a victim too ... He was a kind and loving human being."

Several people attending the service stood and applauded. Price broke into tears and was escorted out of the church.

On Tuesday, Price's boyfriend, Doug Williams, committed suicide after shooting 14 co-workers, killing five, at the Lockheed Martin aircraft parts plant.

Outside the First Baptist Church, Price told The Associated Press that Williams had "felt like everybody was against him," knew he had problems and that Lockheed officials had ignored him when he sought help.

Price said Williams was taking medicine for depression and high blood pressure. She said Williams was buried earlier Thursday in a private ceremony.

Lockheed spokesman Sam Grizzle said Thursday that the company was not aware of Williams seeking help at any time.

He said Lockheed paid for Williams to go to an anger management course in 2001 when Williams admitted to having a problem with his temper following a confrontation with an employee.

Co-workers said Williams, 48, had run-ins with management and several fellow employees. Williams, who was white, had been frustrated because he thought black people had a leg up in society, co-workers said.

Authorities are attempting to contact individuals who may have firsthand knowledge about any behavioral problems displayed by Williams.

During the lengthy memorial service, speakers pointed to the gathering as a sign the community was pulling together.

"We as a community, no matter what color we may be, we can come together," said the Rev. Roderick Steele, pastor of New Era Baptist Church.

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