The service department of Fox Chevrolet in Woodlawn became the scene of three shootings -- two of them fatal -- and a suicide yesterday afternoon, as an auto mechanic who had been fired Wednesday returned with a semiautomatic handgun and began shooting.
"He just walked up to each one and shot them," said Thomas A. Roots, 22, a mechanic. "All you could hear was pow, pow, pow."
Baltimore County police identified the gunman as Wilton "Al" Reed, 25, of the first block of Pacton Place, Woodlawn.
Mr. Reed, described by Fox employees as a polite young man who would speak just above a whisper, shot two former co-workers to death and wounded a third just before noon with a 9mm pistol. He then fired a bullet into his own head.
"Al was a good guy. He was really cool," said one co-worker who asked not to be named. "Was it out of character for him to do something like that? I think it's out of character for anybody. It's really sad."
The first man shot, Fox service manager David Laird, 35, of Lansdowne, had fired Mr. Reed on Wednesday.
"There's no doubt that's who he was after," said E. Jay Miller, a county police spokesman.
Officials at Fox said Mr. Laird had fired Mr. Reed for refusing to repair a vehicle without pay, after he allegedly failed to fix it earlier.
Yesterday, wearing a sport coat, a tie and dress slacks, Mr. Reed returned to the Fox garage, behind the main showroom in the 6600 block of Security Boulevard, and began shooting. About 18 mechanics stopped their work to watch as, according to one witness, the place turned into "a shooting gallery."
When the shooting was over, mechanic Robert B. Daughton, 38, of the 8600 block of Lugano Road, Randallstown, and the gunman Mr. Reed lay dead.
Mr. Laird, the service manager, was left badly wounded, as was general manager William Bishop, 46, the 2700 block of Station Road, Middletown. They were taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where Mr. Bishop died yesterday evening and )) Mr. Laird was reported in critical condition last night.
Police said that when Mr. Reed arrived at Fox yesterday, someone asked if he was stopping by to pick up his last paycheck. He said no.
The shooting began as Mr. Bishop and Mr. Laird were leaving an office next to the repair bays. Mr. Reed shot each of them at close range, according to Mr. Roots, the mechanic.
Mr. Roots said Mr. Reed then turned and walked up to Mr. Daughton, who was standing several cars away, and shot him once in the head.
Mr. Daughton, the mechanic who had helped to train Mr. Reed when he first arrived at Fox about two years ago, died instantly.
"All he said was 'hey' before he was shot," Mr. Roots said of the victim.
Standing next to Mr. Daughton was Donald Collins, a Baltimore County school system employee. As Mr. Daughton fell, Mr. Collins jumped behind a car.
Mr. Reed then shot himself in the head.
As he lay gasping for breath, several employees took the pistol from his hands and dumped it in a nearby trash can.
Mr. Reed died moments later.
Employees described Mr. Reed as a "well-mannered" person who "always went out of his way to say hello."
Former colleagues broke down yesterday and tried to comfort one other, as news of the tragedy spread through the building.
Several garage employees said Mr. Reed had never worked on '' the car Fox officials say he failed to repair.
They said he had felt singled out among the mechanics, whose average take-home pay is $400 to $500 a week, and could not cope with the perceived persecution.
"It's just like that shooting in the post office in Louisville, Ky., where the guy got fired and shot up the place," said a Fox employee who asked not to be identified. "When you get fired, it's like being backed up into a corner. Some people can handle that kind of stress. Some can't."
The slain mechanic, Robert B. Daughton, had been a transmission specialist at Fox for 17 years. A graduate of Pikesville High School, he had been married to his wife, Marsha, for 16 years and was the father of a 10-year-old boy and a 6-year-oldgirl.
Mr. Daughton's family gathered yesterday in their white split-level home after the shootings.
"There isn't anything in the world that anybody would ask him to do that he wouldn't do," said Loretta Rooner, his mother-in-law. "One of his neighbors lost a brother last week, and he went over and cut the lawn without even asking. It's just a waste."
Services for Mr. Daughton are to be held at 10 a.m. Monday at the Sol Levenson & Bros. funeral establishment, 6010 Reisterstown Road.
A cousin of the other slaying victim, William Bishop, said he is survived by a wife, Karen, and a daughter, Ellen. Mr. Bishop's immediate family could not be reached.
Three hours after yesterday's shootings, Mr. Reed's mother was brought by police officers to the dealership.
"I don't know what happened," said Beatrice Reed as she walked away from the building in tears. "He didn't live with me."