As CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassman reports, Doug Williams brought to work both guns and apparently a simmering grudge.
Williams shot himself Tuesday following his lethal rampage at the Lockheed Martin plant. Co-workers said the 48-year-old worker had had run-ins with management and several fellow employees.
"He was involved in a meeting," said Meridian Miss., Sheriff Billy Sollie. "We've been told he got up and left the meeting, came back armed and began the shooting spree."
Some of the 138 employees at the plant said Williams, who was white, was known as a racist who did not like blacks. Eight of the 14 shooting victims were black, including four of the five fatalities.
"We're still interviewing over 138 employees. Until we get all those statements, we're not going to speculate as to motive," Sollie said on CBS News' The Early show. "If you look at the racial makeup of those who were shot and those who were killed, you end up with almost a 50/50 split as far as white or black victims."
Hubert Threat, who has worked at the Lockheed Martin plant since the 1980s, said Williams was "mad at the world." He said Williams, employed at the plant since 1984, had a big heart, "but then 'boom!' it's like Jekyll and Hyde."
"This man had an issue with everybody," Threat said. "It's not just about race. It was just the excuse he was looking for."
The shooting stunned residents of Meridian, a city of 40,000 near the Alabama line whose economy is largely dependent on the military. It's home to the Lockheed plant, a naval air station and an Air National Guard training center.
"We know one another, almost everyone knows someone who works in the building, or has a relative who works in the building," said Craig Hitt, president of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors.
Williams and other employees were attending an annual business ethics meeting that the company requires of all its workers when he left. He returned with a 12-gauge shotgun, a .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle and a bandolier of ammunition.
Police said Williams, dressed in a black T-shirt and camouflage pants, shot several of the meeting's participants in an annex next to the plant before moving on to the main factory, where he shot at least three others.
Several co-workers said they were not surprised when Williams was identified as the killer.
"When I first heard about it, he was the first thing that came to my mind," said Jim Payton, who is retired from the plant but had worked with Williams for about a year.
One victim was Lanette McCall of Cuba, Ala., 47, a black woman who had worked at the plant 15 years. Her husband, Bobby McCall, said she expected Williams to harm someone someday and that Williams had made racist threats in the past.
"Obviously he was sick," McCall said. "I wish somebody had given him some help before he ... destroyed my life and my kids' life."
The other dead were identified as Micky Fitzgerald, 45, of Little Rock, Miss.; Sam Cockrell, 46, of Meridian; Charlie Miller, 58, of Meridian; and Thomas Willis, 57, of Lisman, Ala.
"We're going to turn this thing around," said John Willis, Thomas Willis' nephew and a local pastor. "This is life. God in some way will help us get through it."
Sollie said all the shooting victims had been hit by shotgun blasts and there was no evidence the rifle had been fired. Authorities said three other guns were found in Williams' truck in the parking lot.
It was the nation's deadliest workplace shooting since a software tester in Wakefield, Mass., killed seven people the day after Christmas in 2000.
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics president Dain Hancock called the shootings "a horrible tragedy, a senseless crime." The plant, located near Meridian, builds parts for C-130J Hercules transport planes and vertical stabilizers for F-22 Raptor fighter jets.
"There are no words that can express the amount sorrow that has been felt by all of those who have been touched," Hancock said. He said the company will provide emotional and financial support for workers at the Mississippi plant.
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove said: "Mississippi's family grieves today for this senseless tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those lost."
Lockheed Martin is the biggest defense contractor in the United States. The corporation had sales of $24 billion in 2001 and employs about 125,000 people.