Authorities said a "disgruntled" former employee opened fire at Fiamma in Orlando, Florida, on Monday morning — killing five people and then himself
A “disgruntled” former employee opened fire at a business in Orlando, Florida, on Monday morning — killing five people before he killed himself, according to authorities.
“It is a sad day once again for us in Orange County,” Sheriff Jerry Demings told reporters on Monday, only a few hours after deputies first responded to reports of gunfire at Fiamma in east Orlando.
Demings said the shooting occurred about 8 a.m. A woman and three men were found dead at the scene and the fifth victim died after being taken for treatment, Demings said.
Later Monday, he identified the victims as Kevin Clark, 53, Brenda Montanez-Crespo, 44, Jeffrey Roberts, 57, Kevin Lawson, 46, and Robert Snyder, 69. Online fundraisers have been created for some of the victims, such as Clark and Roberts.
The suspected shooter, 45-year-old John Robert Neumann Jr., was fired from Fiamma in April and killed himself following the shooting, according to Demings. He was armed with a semi-automatic handgun and two knives, though it appears the latter weapons were not used.
Neumann did not appear to have a permit for a concealed weapon, Demings said.
He said Neumann was an Army veteran who was honorably discharged in 1999. Neumann singled out his victims, Demings said. There were eight witnesses.
Neumann appeared to have a “negative relationship” with at least one of the victims, Demings said. “We are trying to understand as much about him as we can.”
Neumann had a previous workplace altercation at Fiamma in which he attacked another employee, though no charges were filed, Demings said.
Fiamma is a more than 70-year-old family-run business that produces “lightweight, easy-to-operate RV awnings with hand-built craftsmanship,” according to the company’s web site.
It is one of several companies in the area, which one sheriff’s official described as a business district.
“Bob [Snyder], he was the boss. He was the one who ran the shop,” Todd Bluewater, owner of nearby Cool Blue Customs Food Trucks, tells PEOPLE. “He was an older guy, and he was just super, super nice.
“He was the one who ran Fiamma. He used to stop into my shop all the time and check on me and my projects. He was just a guy that ran things by the book — very nice guy.”
“Brenda was an administrative assistant and she was very, very kind and very bubbly,” Bluewater says. “She had a super smile and was always just very nice.”
One woman told WFTV, a local TV station, that her sister was in the building at the time of the shooting. She said her sister, a Fiamma employee, called to assure her, “I’m okay. I’m okay.”
“She said, ‘My boss is dead. My boss is dead,’ ” the woman recalled.
“She was very, very upset … she was just using the restroom and she just heard a bang … then she come out and she saw one person on the floor.”
The woman said she and others are rallying around her sister.
“We’re just going to embrace her and not leave her alone and just be there as a family,” she told WFTV. “It’s unbelievable that it could happen in a small business.”
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Bluewater described the scene as “madness,” telling PEOPLE that dozens of police cars arrived in the wake of the shooting.
A source tells PEOPLE that a woman ran from the building — screaming for someone to call 911. Authorities arrived just minutes later.
About 25 law enforcement vehicles and 70 officers responded to the scene, a sheriff’s spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
Of Fiamma, Bluewater says, “They have 10 to 12 employees total. They all seem like mellow, good people.”
An employee at Gomez Ceramic Tiles, another area business, tells PEOPLE the aftermath of the shooting was chaotic, with emergency responders blanketing the road.
The employee says she has seen several people being treated at the scene but did not report seeing anyone with obvious injuries. She saw two women crying and consoling one another.
“Over the past year, the Orlando community has been challenged like never before,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in a statement.
“I have been briefed by our law enforcement officials on this tragic incident and Ann and I are praying for the families who lost loved ones today,” he said. “I ask all Floridians to pray for the families impacted by this senseless act of violence.”
The attack comes nearly a year to the day after a gunman killed 49 people and injured 53 others at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.
• With reporting by STEVE HELLING