MIAMI — A distraught investor hit by heavy stock market losses opened fire Monday in a Merrill Lynch office, killing the branch manager and critically wounding a broker before fatally shooting himself in the head, police said.
Arthur Kane, 53, a Social Security claims examiner, was a regular visitor to the brokerage office beside an upscale shopping center in suburban Miami. He was an easy-going, good-humored man, Merrill Lynch employees said.
He was friends with most of the brokers and secretaries and enjoyed watching the display of up-to-date price quotations. He often stayed after hours to socialize.
Kane's amiability was crushed, however, in last week's market's collapse. He became despondent. Shortly after 11 a.m. Monday, he entered an upstairs office for a meeting with his longtime broker, Lloyd Kolokoff, and the branch manager, Jose F. Argilagos.
Kane reportedly took a .357 revolver from his briefcase and began shooting. Witnesses recalled hearing five shots. Many bystanders scattered, took refuge in a storage room or beneath desks. Confused brokers put clients on hold and dialed 911.
"This is so devastating!" said Kathy Abraham, who runs the office's client service department. "We don't deserve any of this! It's just not necessary!"
Her boss, Argilagos, 51, died in an office not far from her desk. He had been with the company 26 years.
Kane's broker, Kolokoff, 38, was in critical condition with a punctured lung and damage to his spine. He had been with the company 12 years.
Abraham, weeping as she left the building, said she mourned both her boss and the man who killed him.
"I thought of Art as a friend," she said. "I wish I knew what went wrong, but I'm not a psychiatrist."
Marie Ros, a former broker at the office, said: "Kane was a big trader. He knew everything about the market. You know how people get hooked on the market? He was one of them."
In New York, Merrill Lynch's top executives said they were "deeply shocked and sad to learn of this incident," but offered no details of the financial straits that apparently made one of their customers go berserk.
There were unconfirmed reports that Kane had been asked to put up funds to cover his debts--a margin call.
"The guy got pummeled bad last week," said Aaron Perry, a broker with a rival firm who had spoken with friends at Merrill Lynch. "He had a margin call--and a big one! You know what that means? That means he had to come up with the money or go down the drain."
Investors who buy on margin partially use money borrowed from a brokerage. In a margin call, they are asked to come up with more cash or collateral--or their shares will be sold.
Kane had a stylish home in a serene neighborhood. His family went into seclusion upon hearing the news. Neither his wife nor any of his three daughters would comment.
"Anybody who loses a substantial amount of money is unhappy; Mr. Kane was unhappy," Marvin Hollub, his son-in-law, matter-of-factly told WPLG-TV in Miami.
Back at the brokerage office, customers wandered about the roped-off crime scene, shocked at the news.
Allen Pierce, another of Kolokoff's clients, said: "Last week, I told him 'somebody is going to go off his nut.' I told him to be careful.
"But you know, I don't even think he heard me. These days, people are like in a walking coma, you know, under sedation, just stunned by the whole mess."