PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP, Mich. — In the third shooting at a Michigan auto factory since September, an employee opened fire in a Ford Motor Co. plant Saturday, wounding his estranged wife, then killing her boyfriend and himself.
"I just heard shooting, just shooting. Most women started hitting the floor. The bosses said: 'Get out of here!' " said Maureen Webster, one of the workers in the plant. About half an hour after the early shift began work at the plant west of Detroit, 43-year-old Michael Brattin found his wife of 16 years and shot her in the legs and stomach, officials said.
When Sandra Brattin's boyfriend, 41-year-old Michael O'Brien, came to her aid, Brattin shot him too--three times in the chest with a handgun he bought just three days earlier.
When Brattin turned the gun on other approaching workers, they backed off. Then he shot himself in the head. Brattin and O'Brien died about an hour later. Sandra Brattin, 39, was listed in fair condition.
It wasn't immediately clear if Brattin was working when the shooting began or if he came to the plant with violence in mind.
"We have good security," Ford spokesman Bill Carroll said. "We can't police every single person every single time. These incidents do happen."
On Sept. 10, a Ford worker opened fire as a union meeting broke up in Dearborn. Two workers were killed and two others injured. On Dec. 9, an auto worker apparently upset about his work assignment allegedly killed his supervisor and wounded a co-worker at a Chrysler Corp. plant in Sterling Heights. Defendants are awaiting trial in both cases.
Police didn't know if Brattin bought the gun to shoot his wife, but Berry said the .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun "is made for one thing, and that's to kill."
Factory worker Richard Priebe said he heard shots and a lot of screaming.
"You wouldn't expect it from him," Priebe said of the gunman.
Everyone at the Plymouth Township plant was sent home, but Ford planned to reopen the factory, except the shooting site, for the afternoon shift.