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The BBC's Richard Lister in Washington
"It was a deadly attack, without warning"
 real 56k

Editor of the Wakefield Observer Dan McAlpine
"We are a society awashed in guns"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 27 December, 2000, 15:29 GMT
US shooting suspect charged
Michael McDermott
Mr McDermott showed little emotion in court
A 42-year-old man has been remanded in custody after pleading not guilty to killing seven people at an internet company where he worked in Boston, Massachussetts.

Wearing orange prison overalls and a bulletproof vest, Michael McDermott was ushered into court by heavily armed police officers.

He showed no emotion as the charges against him were read out.

Mr McDermott was overpowered and arrested at the offices of Edgewater Technology after the shootings on Tuesday.

His lawyer said his client had been receiving psychiatric treatment.

No bail was granted and the court was adjourned for a month.

The scene outside the office complex where the shooting occurred
The scene outside the office complex where the shooting occurred
Local officials said the incident on Tuesday could have been the result of a conflict between work colleagues over unpaid taxes.

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said police were investigating Mr McDermott's tax history, which could have been linked to the killing.

She said that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had asked Edgewater Technology to deduct a percentage from his wages to pay off his debt.

However, she added that Edgewater had discussed the matter with Mr McDermott and agreed not to deduct any pay until after the holiday period.

Current employee

The shooting occurred at midday (1700 GMT) on Tuesday at the corporate headquarters of Edgewater Technology.


It's a small company, you get to know everybody there, when something like this happens it's very distressing

Employee Nancy Pecjo
Police entered the building and found Mr McDermott, 42, armed with an AK-47, a shotgun and a handgun sitting in the lobby.

According to Assistant District Attorney John McEvoy, police wrestled Mr McDermott to the ground and placed him in custody.

Mr McDermott is understood to be a current employee of the company and has worked there since last March as a software tester.

He came to work as usual that morning and did not open fire until later.

Team projects leader Mike Stanley told the Associated Press that Mr McDermott had recently been coming in late for work and his performance was not as good as it could have been.

None of the victims was his supervisor, Mr Stanley added, describing the killings as "a random, ridiculous thing".

But investigators said that the shooting was aimed at individuals. An enormous number of bullets were used, yet no one was injured other than the seven who died.

Panic

Police arriving at the scene searched the building believing that there might have been a second gunman inside.


Police apprehended McDermott in the lobby of the complex
Witnesses reported panic-stricken employees running from the building as police arrived.

"I was shocked... it was such a quiet area and I know that was a professional building. I was very very surprised," said eyewitness Tammy McManus.

Employee Nancy Pecjo, who went to the building after hearing the news, was equally shocked.

"It's a small company, you get to know everybody there," she said.

"When something like this happens it's very distressing."

Edgewater is said to employ around 150 people in Wakefield. There was a skeleton staff of around 80 in the building at the time of the shooting.

BBC Washington correspondent Stephen Sackur says workplace shootings have become depressingly familiar in America.

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America and the gun

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27 Dec 00 | Americas
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