2 men die at Sparks office

Police call shooting at firm an apparent murder-suicide

November 17, 2006|By Julie Scharper and Nick Shields | Julie Scharper and Nick Shields,Sun reporters

A meeting between a worker and his supervisor ended with gunfire and both men dead in an apparent murder-suicide yesterday at a biotechnology company's northern Baltimore County offices, police said.

The early-afternoon shootings occurred at BD Diagnostic Systems in the Loveton Center business park in Sparks. The men were alone in an office when other workers reported hearing shots, a county police spokesman said.

"Right now, we don't know what the motive was or what the meeting was about," the spokesman, Cpl. Michael Hill, told reporters at a news conference shortly after the shooting. "This is a horrible event for all the people in this office."

Police would not say whether a gun was recovered or how many shots witnesses reported hearing.

They said that they would not release the names of the victims until today, but family members identified the supervisor who died as Harold Creech, 59.

Creech, a native of North Carolina, moved to New Freedom, Pa., nine years ago when he went to work at BD Diagnostics, said Susan Glack, who acted as family spokeswoman after Creech's wife, Linda, was reached last night. He supervised the information technology department at the office, Glack said.

"He was a very positive person, and liked by everyone, and he liked the company," she said.

Creech traveled frequently between New Freedom and Greensboro, N.C., where his wife continues to live. The couple has two adult children, Glack said.

Yesterday, police interviewed BD Diagnostics employees who may have been potential witnesses.

The Sparks facility manufactures instruments to test for infectious diseases, said Colleen T. White, a spokeswoman with BD Inc. BD Diagnostics is a division of the larger company.

Looking dazed, workers carrying lunchboxes trickled out of the building yesterday afternoon. They spoke reassuringly to each other in a parking garage as a steady rain fell outside.

Police swarmed the building and paramedics rolled an empty stretcher out of the door.

`Unreal'

"It's unreal," said one employee who declined to give her name.

She and other co-workers said that company officials had told employees not to speak with reporters.

The woman said that she learned of the shooting when she saw a nurse running down a hallway with a wheelchair. The nurse shouted that she needed another wheelchair because two employees had been injured, the employee said.

"It's just terrible," said another employee. "I can't believe anything like that happened there. It's a great place to work."

The man said that the shooting occurred in the information technology department. He described the supervisor as a friendly man who always waved to him.

The employee, who works on the other side of the building, said he was unaware of the incident until a friend called him about 2:30 p.m. to make sure he was all right.

The company sent out an office-wide e-mail about a half-hour later to let employees know that there had been a shooting, and that counselors were on hand for anyone who wanted to talk to someone.

BD Inc., formerly known as Becton, Dickinson and Co., is a medical technology company that serves health-care institutions, life science researchers, clinical laboratories, industry and the general public.

Headquartered in Franklin Lakes, N.J., with offices in nearly 50 countries and more than 25,000 employees worldwide, the company manufactures and sells a range of medical supplies, devices, laboratory equipment and diagnostic products, according to its Web site.

The company has three distinct operations - BD Biosciences, BD Medical and BD Diagnostics.

The Sparks office, built in the mid-1980s, employs 500 people in manufacturing, research and development, information technologies, marketing, sales and administrative jobs, according to White, the company spokeswoman.

`World leader'

The company unit is identified on BD's Web site as "the world leader in microbiology products."

Adjacent to that office is a separate, $6.5 million manufacturing plant associated with BD Biosciences that opened in 2000 with 130 new jobs.

The newer plant produces dehydrated bacteriological culture medium, a powder that is used to help grow and analyze bacteria.

BD employs 1,700 people in Maryland, White said.

"It's a terrible tragedy and we extend our deepest condolences," she said.

In a written statement, Diane Polk, a vice president of human resources with BD Diagnostic Systems in Sparks, said: "On behalf of BD and its employees, we extend our condolences to all of the families who were affected by this terrible tragedy."

julie.scharper@baltsun.com nicholas.shields@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Jennifer McMenamin contributed to this article.

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