Camp Capturing Associated to Labor Disputes, “Albuquerque Journal
Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
Waid Anthony Melton was off on Monday.
Police say he showed up at the food distribution warehouse in southeast Albuquerque, where he worked, blocked an exit with a forklift and opened fire on the first three people he saw, seriously injuring them.
Then he fled the scene.
Melton, 30, shot himself on Interstate 25 near Placitas a few hours later.
In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Michael Geier, chief of the Albuquerque Police Department, said he did not want to speculate as to why Melton shot the warehouse. But he said detectives heard Melton had problems with his boss recently and was angry that he wasn’t promoted.
“This advertising problem was the only thing that we were made aware of,” said Geier. “Everyone said he was a nice guy, I don’t think anyone anticipated that.”
Family members have also told detectives that Melton had mental health issues.
Social media accounts associated with Melton’s name indicate an interest in psychedelic mushrooms, cannabis, and other drugs. He said on Facebook that he was once employed as a “killer” on “Natural Born Killers” – a reference to the 1994 film about violence and the media.
On Twitter, he appears to be an avid sharer of crime articles in the Journal and frequently mentions that he feels sad.
Melton has no criminal history in New Mexico.
“We had very little contact with him,” said Geier. “I think a traffic accident in Rio Rancho, not a crime story, nothing to suggest that if we had information beforehand, we could have prevented this.”
In front of Melton’s family home, troubled relatives declined to speak to a reporter.
“We have nothing to share,” said one woman.
It was just after 6.15 p.m. – just before a shift change – when the 911 dispatch center received calls through an active rifleman at Ben E. Keith’s warehouse on the 3200 block of Broadway south of Gibson SE.
The officers arrived less than five minutes later and worked out a plan.
“They went into the building and quickly located the three victims, all of whom were gunshot wounds,” said Chief Geier. “These officials then decided to take these victims to safety, where they would take life-saving measures.”
These three victims, all men, were rushed to the University of New Mexico hospital with potentially life-threatening injuries. As of Tuesday morning, one was in stable condition and the other two remained in critical condition, said Dr. Stephen Lu, the director of emergency surgery at UNMH.
The authorities have not identified the victims. Geier said it was possible that one of them was Melton’s boss.
“In retrospect, it could have been much worse. I am very grateful for the work of our officers,” said Geier. “They did exactly what they were trained to do. You got into a dangerous and unsafe situation with active Sagittarius and saved lives. “
A Ben E. Keith employee who did not want to be named said he gave his 23-year-old son a job in the warehouse about five months ago.
The clerk said he was returning a van when he heard what happened at around 7 a.m. Monday.
Then he and his wife would call their son over and over again. Finally he called back from another number and said he was safe.
“I asked him what happened and he said I really don’t want to talk now,” said the clerk. “He was all white and pale and freaked out.”
While APD, the New Mexico State Police, and SWAT team officers from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office fully searched the building, Melton’s family members contacted investigators and gave them his cell phone number.
Geier said detectives were tracking the phone and crisis negotiators spoke to Melton to get him to surrender.
They were still trying when he killed himself.
“We had a negotiator on the phone at about 11.40pm when it happened and they heard the shot,” Geier said.
New Mexico State Police investigators found Melton dead, sealed his truck, and dragged him to the Albuquerque Crime Lab. A pistol has been found near Melton’s body and is being tested to see if it was used in the camp shootout. Geier said they didn’t know yet whether the gun was registered with him.
On Tuesday afternoon, detectives and tactical APD officers carried out a search warrant against Melton’s house on the 200 block of Osage SW near Central and Atrisco SW.
Officers in tactical gear circled a stucco house when police vehicles and yellow tape blocked the road in both directions. A robot from a bomb squadron was wheeled into the back yard of the house and came out a short time later with officers.
On either side of the yellow ribbon, neighbors gathered to see what all the activity had gotten into their block.
Madie Mirabal said the neighborhood was a “close community,” but Melton mostly stayed to herself.
“Nothing strange … just some kind of quiet person,” she said. “He was silent.”
Mirabal said Melton only lived in the house for a few months.
“I didn’t even know his name,” she said.
Jose and Annie Garcia said they saw Melton regularly in his garage, on his way to church, or to run errands.
The Garcias said they saw him standing next to his truck around 7 a.m. on Monday and assumed he was going to work.
“We just waved,” said Garcia. “He waved back.”
An all too familiar scenario
The issue of gun violence across the community and nation was a major concern at the new conference on Tuesday.
Both Mayor Tim Keller and Dr. Lu stressed that first responders, hospital staff and police had been trained and acted on the mass shootings.
“When that came, the whole team was ready, the emergency room was ready, the reception was ready, the social workers were ready, the intensive care unit was ready,” Lu said. “Why were we ready? It’s because it happens all the time. For that it’s a great privilege, but I think it has to be said that the reason we have these resources is because it happens all the time. “
Keller repeated that statement, saying Monday’s shooting was a reminder that work needed to be done to contain the gun violence.
“We should never accept this as normal or as it is,” said Keller.
In fact, this is the second time this year that a Ben E. Keith employee has opened fire on employees.
According to the Dallas News, 38-year-old Kristine Peralez walked into the company’s warehouse in Houston, Texas, in the early hours of August 20, and shot a manager and wounded another employee.
Peralez died in a shootout with police, but it’s unclear whether she shot herself or was shot by a police officer.
In a statement distributed by APD, officials from Ben E. Keith said their prayers are with the staff and their families. They offer advice and other services for those who need it.
“Although this situation was isolated, we are painfully aware that another situation of workplace violence emerged three months ago at our Houston, TX facility,” Ben E. Keith said in a statement. “We have a fundamental responsibility for the safety of our employees and communities. For this reason, Ben E. Keith Foods will continue to work with outside safety professionals. “
The family of a man killed in the shooting is now suing the company for $ 25 million, according to Dallas News.