Feb. 6, 2001 -- William Baker was supposed to begin his federal prison term today for stealing from his employer.
But on Monday, the 66-year-old convicted sex offender marched into the plant where he once worked and opened fire, shooting at random before turning his gun on himself, police said.
Five people were killed, including the gunman, and four others wounded in the latest bloody spree to rock the nation.
“It’s like something you read about in the papers,” said Terry Dorsch, brother of engine lab supervisor Daniel Dorsch, who was killed in the attack. “You never think it will happen to you.”
At about 10 a.m., Baker allegedly drove up to the plant’s security checkpoint with a golf bag. He told the guard that he was delivering the bag to an employee inside, according to Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo.
Guns Hidden in a Golf Bag
When security did not let him in, he pulled out a pistol and forced his way in, taking a guard with him.
Once inside, he freed the guard and began shooting at random, pulling weapons from his golf bag, witnesses said.
Baker used an AK-47 assault rifle, Scavo said. He carried a shotgun and a .30-caliber hunting rifle with a telescopic sight in addition to the 38-caliber revolver during the 10 to15-minute assault. Baker, police said, traveled one to two blocks through the building, shooting seven people, three of them fatally, in an engineering area. He then went into an office where he killed one more person and then shot himself, police said.
“I just heard several, several gunshots,” said Michael Kalagian, a Navistar engineer who fled when the shooting erupted.
“I heard three, three initially, and then when I was running for the exit I heard about … four more.”
Kalagian said his coworkers recognized the gunman as a former Navistar employee.
Fleeing the Scene of Tragedy
Martin Reutimann was working inside the plant when the shooting started, but said he didn’t hear the gunfire until he had run outside.
Someone “came into our offices, thankfully, and told somebody there’d been shooting, and we just ran,” Reutiman said.
Among the dead are Dorsch, 52, engine lab technician Robert Wehrheim, 47, Michael Brus, 48, and William Garcia, 44. Carl Swanson, 45, was in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the abdomen and Mujtaba Aidross, 24, was in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the chest. Bryan Snyder, 26, was shot in the arm and was in fair condition, and Matt Kusck, 22, was treated and released.
Baker was fired from the International Truck and Engine Corporation in Melrose Park, Illinois, in 1994 for stealing, and pleaded guilty to federal theft conspiracy charges in June.
Five-Month Sentence Was to Begin Today
He was scheduled to surrender to federal authorities today to start serving his five-month sentence for conspiracy to commit theft from an interstate shipment. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $195,400.
The tool-room attendant had worked for the company — a division of Navistar — for 39 years.
Baker is listed as a convicted sex offender on the Illinois State Police Web site. The victim was under the age of 18, according to the site.
Navistar International is the nation’s second-biggest producer of heavy-duty trucks, which it sells under the International brand. It also manufactures mid-sized trucks, school buses and diesel engines, which it also sells to Ford and other truck makers.
The Melrose Park plant at the center of Monday’s bloody rampage makes Navistar’s medium-duty engines and employs about 1,400 people. The plant is located some 15 miles from the company’s downtown Chicago headquarters.
ABCNEWS affiliate WLS in Chicago contributed to this report.