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Deputies Kill Man After 5 Workers Are Hurt

Crime: Assailant is shot to death in parking lot after rampage at a chemical company in San Dimas. Three people suffered burns and two others were stabbed.

June 15, 2002|DOUGLAS HABERMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A 30-year-old man went on a rampage Friday at a chemical research company in San Dimas, burning or stabbing at five co-workers before sheriff's deputies shot him to death in the parking lot.

Firefighters received a call about an explosion and fire at 1:53 p.m. at the Maxdem facility on Arrow Highway.

Two people were critically burned and a third suffered first-degree burns, said Dennis Cross, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

In addition, a man and woman at the company were taken to hospitals in critical condition with stab wounds. One was stabbed in the head and neck, the other in the abdomen, authorities said.

Employees were fleeing the building as firefighters arrived, Cross said, and only some smoke and flames remained.

Richard Nassar, 25, who works at his family's Arco gas station across the street, said he saw the attacker, whose name has not been released, chase a man outside the building, then throw a bottle on the ground. Instantly, the other man's leg caught fire and he ran to a Texaco station next door to Maxdem as he tried to extinguish the flames, said Nassar, who called 911.

Nassar and his brother, Raymond, 21, said the man who threw the bottle went back into the building. Soon, another man ran outside bleeding profusely from a badly cut ear and yelling, "Some guy's going crazy in there," Raymond Nassar said.

When sheriff's deputies arrived, another person was running from the building entrance, followed by the attacker, and screaming, "That's him! That's him!" Raymond Nassar said. Deputies fired five or six shots at the man, who was holding something that looked like a canister, Raymond Nassar said.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokesman Rick Varela said two fires had been ignited in the building "as a result of chemicals being dispersed."

San Dimas Mayor Curt Morris, who went to the scene, said a Maxdem employee told him the man was a chemist with a Jordanian passport.

"He had recently, like last September, gotten a PhD in chemistry," Morris said. "He had recently gone on a trip back to Jordan and gotten engaged."

Morris said the employee told him there was no sign of trouble with the man in the morning.

Maxdem is a high-tech manufacturer of super-rigid plastics. Some of its work has involved contracts from the Pentagon's Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, which directs U.S. research and development of antimissile technology. The sheriff's bomb squad sent a robot to examine the attacker's car, fearing it might be booby-trapped. The squad set off a charge that shattered the car's windows. A detective then inspected the car before the squad set off another charge.

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