Shooting leaves 2 wounded, 1 dead

Fired Arundel worker injures ex-managers, kills self

November 24, 2005|By ANICA BUTLER | ANICA BUTLER,SUN REPORTER

An Anne Arundel County man who had been fired recently as a driver for a Glen Burnie restaurant supply company returned to the business yesterday afternoon and shot two supervisors, then stepped outside and fatally shot himself in the head, police said.

The two employees of H&M Wagner and Sons survived the attack, which occurred hours before workers were to leave for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Police identified the former employee as Joseph Allen Cobb, 54, of the Glen Burnie area.

"When you have 180 employees, there's a possibility that something like this would happen," said co-owner Michael J. Wagner, a former state senator from Anne Arundel County. "You certainly don't think it's going to happen; you don't want it to happen, but you know there's a possibility.

"And this particular guy had problems, and he got dismissed and he had other problems," Wagner said.

Police gave this account:

About 2 p.m., Cobb entered the family-owned business at 7204 May Wagner Lane carrying a .38-caliber handgun and confronted his former supervisor, Raymond R. Himes Jr., 37, of Baltimore.

Cobb shouted a profanity at Himes and then shot him once in the left arm. Cobb walked down a hallway and entered the office of another employee, Jack N. Helms, 49, of Pasadena. Cobb fired three times, striking Helms twice in the stomach.

Cobb then walked outside and shot himself. He was pronounced dead about 5 p.m. at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Helms and Himes also were taken to Shock Trauma. Helms was treated and released, and Himes was listed in serious condition, hospital officials said.

George Wagner, another co-owner of the business, said Cobb was fired two weeks ago but declined to say why. Co-workers said Cobb had been out on disability leave for a number of months.

Wagner, choking back tears as he talked to reporters yesterday, said he believed that Cobb was married and had a child, and that there was nothing in his past dealings to lead Wagner to believe that Cobb was dangerous.

"It was absolutely surprising, putting it very mildly," he said.

Wagner described Helms and Himes as good family men. Co-workers said they are "wonderful people" and "great guys."

"I'm sure everyone will say a couple more prayers tonight," Wagner said.

Both men had direct supervision of truck drivers and worked with Cobb, several employees said. The company employs about 180 people and has a family-like atmosphere, Wagner and several of his employees said.

The shootings forced the evacuation of the business, forcing many employees to wait in the cold as police conducted interviews. Police towed away a red GMC pickup that employees said belonged to Cobb.

Some co-workers described Cobb as a nice man who would often laugh and make jokes, but added that they hadn't seen much of him in recent months.

Tom Rendulic, a buyer who has worked at H&M Wagner for 10 years, said Cobb had been going through hard times.

Police listed an address on Dublin Drive in Glen Burnie as Cobb's last known residence. However, there was a lockbox on the door yesterday, and a neighbor said that the renters who had lived there moved out several weeks ago.

H&M Wagner & Sons was started in 1962 by George Wagner's parents, Harry and May Wagner. The company is now owned and run by George Wagner and his brothers.

The family also owns and operates Michael's 8th Avenue, a banquet hall and boxing venue.

Michael Wagner, who served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1975 to 1977 and in the state Senate from 1977 to 1979 and from 1983 to 1994, said he didn't know Cobb, but understood that he had sold all of his furniture.

"Obviously he was figuring on not needing a couch," Michael Wagner said.

Yesterday's shooting was the second workplace triple-shooting in Anne Arundel County in two months. Last month, a Bowie man took a rifle into an Edgewater office complex and shot two men in a mortgage office, killing one. The assailant, Michael Wayne Baxter Jr., later fatally shot himself in a nearby parking lot.

Authorities said they were unsure of Baxter's motive, although the shooting involved relationships between the shooter, his ex-girlfriend and her boss, according to witnesses and family members.

Police said they are investigating yesterday's shooting and are searching for additional witnesses.

anica.butler@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Bradley Olson contributed to this article.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.