Meridian Star

National News

November 9, 2009

(11:22 a.m.) Orlando-Office Shooting

MIKE SCHNEIDER,Associated Press Writer

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A man who was in an Orlando office when a former employee came in and started shooting said Monday that the ordeal that left one dead and five injured lasted about a minute.

Mark Davidson, a vice president at the engineering firm Reynolds, Smith and Hills, said Monday that his co-workers stayed calm Friday and didn't scream as Jason Rodriguez entered a reception area of the eighth-floor office and began shooting randomly.

"Nobody was screaming or yelling," Davidson said. "It wasn't panicky."

The gunman pulled a pistol from a holster under his shirt in the reception area of the U-shaped office and began shooting. At first, Davidson said he didn't know what the noise was. He thought it might be balloons popping or book shelves falling over. There is only one main entrance to the office from outside, and it was typically unlocked during business hours.

The building had security guards posted at a desk on the first floor, but visitors could come and go with relative ease before Friday's shooting.

The noises kept getting closer and Davidson saw other people running, and he knew something was wrong.

Davidson ran to back of the office where other workers had gathered and they waited a moment, trying to piece together what was happening. They then saw the gunman from about 25 yards away as he had made his way about three-quarters through the U-shaped office. They fled.

"You're seeing the shooter and you put two and two together," Davidson said. "You knew we were, as a company, victims of a senseless crime."

Rodriguez has been charged with first-degree murder, and Orlando Police Chief Val Demings said Monday that more charges are expected. The shooting caused havoc in downtown Orlando as authorities scrambled to find Rodriguez, who was eventually tracked to his mother's home. He surrendered peacefully, but later remarked to reporters that he went on the rampage because his former co-workers "left me to rot."

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