Work dispute turns deadly

Man who was fired in April kills ex-supervisor, is fatally wounded by police

July 21, 2005|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

Levi A. White couldn't stay away from the Northwest Baltimore beverage company he was fired from in April after being accused of sabotaging a $400,000 piece of equipment.

In May, employees believe he spray-painted two cars, including his former supervisor's, according to court records. A few days later, he was accused of throwing a large brick through the windshield of a car driven by his former supervisor, Dennis Wilson, with whom he had a previous dispute.

Criminally charged with property destruction, White was ordered to stay away from the company, court records show.

However, on Tuesday evening White returned, this time with a loaded shotgun. Police say he strode into the H.R. Nicholson Co. plant, walked past other employees and found Wilson, who was working the overnight shift. Then, police said, he fatally shot him at close range.

He went back outside, sat on a brick wall and apparently waited for police to arrive. Officers ordered him to drop the shotgun. Instead, police said, he pointed it at them, and officers returned fire. White, 49, died from his injuries yesterday.

"Mr. White could have, in fact, inflicted a tremendous amount of harm on our officers, or more employees," said Maj. Richard Fahlteich, commander of the homicide unit. "He specifically sought [Wilson] out ... and fired one shot."

Fahlteich said White was fired April 11 because he sabotaged machinery at the company. Wilson's wife, Faye, said in an interview at their Catonsville apartment that her husband had filed an internal report on White after he caught him with wire cutters near the damaged machinery that court records say was valued at $400,000.

"Levi had cut some wires on a machine, and my husband didn't see him do it, but he saw him holding the wire cutters," Wilson said. "So my husband had to write a report about it. He was upset because my husband was responsible for him getting fired.

"Everybody loved him there, but one man," the wife continued. "If you couldn't get along with my husband, you couldn't get along with anybody."

Wilson said she and her husband had sold their Catonsville home a year ago and moved into a small apartment in preparation for their retirement. They bought a home in Spartanburg, S.C., her hometown, which they had furnished. She planned to move there soon, and her husband planned to retire after Christmas next year.

Dennis Wilson, 60, who had four grown children from a previous marriage, enjoyed shopping at flea markets on weekends and was head deacon at a West Baltimore church, his wife said. He had moved to Baltimore 30 years ago and worked in manufacturing plants for most of his life, often holding supervisory positions, she said.

The couple met in 1983, working together at a Baltimore factory that made Venetian blinds, which has since closed, she said. They married 11 years ago.

"We were looking forward to retirement," Wilson said. "He was really looking forward to it."

At White's home in the city's Reservoir Hill neighborhood, his niece, who declined to give her name, said she "didn't know what happened or why." White's wife declined to comment.

Employees at the company in the 6300 block of Oakleaf Ave. declined to discuss the incident. Company officials released a statement that described Wilson, a five-year employee, as "well-liked and respected" and "kind, good-hearted and friendly to everyone."

The company did not mention White in the statement.

Tuesday's shooting was the second incident of gun violence at a workplace in the Baltimore area this month. On July 7, a 46-year-old man fired from his job at Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. returned to his Anne Arundel County office building with a shotgun. He shot through his former supervisor's office window, but she was not injured. Then he entered the building and fatally shot himself in the supervisor's office, authorities said.

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