Chief - Man who shot co-workers held grudges

Friday, July 25, 2003

SAN ANTONIO -- Police said Thursday that a man who walked into the real estate office where he worked and shot two women dead and critically wounded a third had grudges against co-workers.

The gunman didn't like having female peers and supervisors, police chief Albert Ortiz said, based on interviews with people who knew 48-year-old Ron G. Thomas.

Thomas fled San Antonio after Wednesday's shootings and killed himself as police closed in on his sport utility vehicle on a highway about 135 miles to the northeast.

Killed in the attack were Anna Medcalf, 40, and Nancy Scharein, 61. Jane Swanson, 41, who was shot in the right temple, was hospitalized in critical condition Thursday.

Ortiz said Scharein and Swanson appeared to be the intended targets, while Medcalf likely "just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Some co-workers have described Thomas as a "wonderful" office mentor and top salesman at the Century 21 real estate office where he and the victims worked.

Ortiz, however, said, "There are individuals who knew there was this other personality."

Ortiz said he would not release more details in order to protect Thomas' wife and two children. He said Thomas' wife had not contacted police or social workers or told any neighbors about violent behavior.

"We have found some evidence that indicates that there was a certain amount of anger in general," Ortiz said. "Some specific to these employees that were victims."

Ortiz described Scharein as a supervisor and Swanson a chief competitor of Thomas.

Scharein's husband, Art, however, said his wife's job as a financial specialist did not put her directly over Thomas and that she never mentioned any threatening behavior in the office.

"I never heard anyone talking that way about him. I think that Nancy was in the wrong place and at the wrong time," Art Scharein said. "Nancy was always happy. She enjoyed her work. This guy was in an office down the hall."

Scharein's daughter, Samantha Roper, also worked in the real estate office, Art Scharein said. After dropping her mother off and heading to an appointment, Roper had returned to the office just moments after the shooting.

"It was devastating," he said.

According to police, Thomas went to his office and cleared the things off his desk and walls before he started firing with a .357 Magnum pistol.

He then found the three women in a small area where the copy machines were kept, shooting Swanson first, police said.

"He didn't have to be a good shot," Ortiz said. On his way out, Thomas locked eyes with a receptionist but didn't shoot.

Thompson had worked in the office several years. Police said he had not been under psychiatric counseling or taking any medication.

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