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Wednesday, 27 December, 2000, 17:59 GMT
Profile: A 'surly, quirky' character
Michael McDermott
Michael McDermott lived alone and kept to himself
One of his neighbours called Michael McDermott 'surly, quiet and quirky' - but similar descriptions have regularly been applied to many who have used firearms to resolve problems in the workplace.

High pressure working environments and the free availability of weapons have combined to make office shootings depressingly common in the United States.


Of all the people that I thought could have done this, it was him

Mike Stanley, colleague
The slang term "going postal" was coined after a spate of shootings by US postal workers.

And Michael McDermott's alleged shooting rampage through the offices of Edgewater Technology in Massachusetts seems to have been prompted by an argument over tax.

Some of the four women and three men killed worked in the accounting department, which was recently ordered to begin deducting unpaid taxes from Mr McDermott's wages.

Loner

Divorced with no children, Mr McDermott lived alone and was known to keep himself to himself. To his neighbours, he was recognised more for his bearish 6 foot, 260-pound frame and bushy, black beard than any personality traits.


He was very quiet and didn't say much

Johnathan Oldham, neighbour
A former US navy submarine technician, Mr McDermott had been working as a software tester for the Edgewater since March, but had reportedly been coming in late recently and under-performing.

Despite what was reported as an angry outburst over the tax problem, a company spokesman said Mr McDermott's actions "apparently stem from occurrences in his personal life".

And a neighbour living above Mr McDermott in Haverhill, Massachusetts said that he had never mentioned money problems.

"He never talked about the company," said Kevin Forzese. "I talked to him about money and he said he was doing really well."

Mr Forzese said Mr McDermott mentioned that he collected antique guns, but he had never seen any weapons in his flat.

Family 'distraught'

Michael McDermott had no prior criminal record and according to his lawyer, Kevin Reddington came from a "nice family".

"Obviously they are very distraught, but they are standing by and supporting their son and brother, he told the Boston Herald newspaper.

"Everybody is stricken over the enormity of these circumstances," he added.

According to a co-worker, Mr McDermott went by the nickname "Mucko" - apparently coined by his nieces and nephews who couldn't pronounce Michael.

The affectionate moniker even appeared on his car's number plate.

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