A former employee of engineer-architect Reynolds, Smith & Hills Inc. entered the company's downtown Orlando office shortly before lunch on Friday and shot and killed one employee and wounded five other people. The alleged shooter, Jason Rodriguez, 40, then fled the building and was apprehended without resistance about four hours later by Orlando police.
“Clearly, this has been a sad day for the close family at RS&H,” said Mike Bernos, spokesman at the company’s Jacksonville headquarters. “We’re saddened by the event. Our greatest concern is for our associates in the Orlando office.”
Reached by cell phone, RS&H CEO Leerie Jenkins, declined comment on the shooting and on whether he knew Rodriguez, referring calls to the firm's attorney.
Neither Bernos nor the City of Orlando could confirm if all of the victims were R S& H employees. Camille Previlon told local reporters that her uncle, Guy Lugenbeel, an engineer, was shot in the back. She did not know what firm he worked for but said that it was on the first floor. The R,S&H office is on the eighth floor. Two other engineering consultants, Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. and R.W. Beck, also have offices in the Gateway Center office building, on floors 14 and 11, respectively.
Rodriguez surrendered peacefully at his mother’s Orlando apartment, not far from the scene of the shootings. Video indicates he did not resist.
As he was escorted into police headquarters, reporters asked Rodriguez why he did it.
“They left me to rot,” he answered.
Bernos says that Rodriguez worked for RS&H for about one year as an entry-level engineer in the company’s transportation division before being released in July, 2007 because of performance issues. The spokesperson adds that he understood Rodriguez had worked for other firms in the Orlando area.
“His work was not up to our standards,” Bernos says. “We have had no contact with him since that time.”
Rodriguez had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last year, according to court records.
Heather Allebaugh, public information officer for City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, confirmed the number of dead and injured. Four victims were transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center. They were stable and being treated for nonlife-threatening injuries, says hospital spokesperson Joe Brown. One patient was taken to Florida Hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries, says spokesperson Jennifer Roberts.
RS&H is based in Jacksonville and is ranked 81st on ENR's list of Top 500 Design Firms, with $150 million in 2008 revenue, 74% of the revenue in transportation. The company is 9th-ranked in Southeast's list of Top Design Firms.
Photo above courtesy of AP/Wideworld