NORTH LAWRENCE - A North Lawrence native was among those working at a Fed-Ex warehouse in Kennesaw, Ga., Tuesday morning when a shooting took place that left six people injured.
Thomas G. Normile, 53, of Marietta, Ga., a 1979 graduate of St. Lawrence Central,. had been at work for just over two hours when a gunman made his way into the warehouse where he worked.
I was on a tugger, and I was coming down the ramp when he walked right in front of me. I saw the rifle and the bullets. He looked right at me, but thank God, he kept walking, Mr. Normile said. I couldnt believe it. We have great security here at Fed-Ex. It didnt seem real.
According to Associated Press reports, the gunman, Geddy Kramer, 19, of Acworth, Ga., made his way into the facility after shooting a security guard inside a shack outside the building. He was later found dead inside the building as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
I knew of him and saw him every day, Mr. Normile said, referring to the gunman. I didnt know him personally, but I dont know why anybody would something like this.
Mr. Normile did say he knew each of the six other shooting victims, four men, 38, 28, 22 and 19, as well as two women, 52 and 42.
I know everybody that got shot. We all worked together, he said. It was just a normal Tuesday. We started work at 3:30 a.m. and were loading all the trucks to get them ready for deliveries. Then this happened.
After realizing that the gunman was not a law enforcement officer, Mr. Normile said he and the other employees ran to the back of the building, opened up an overhead door and jumped out.
Mr. Normile said through television and internet reports many of his family and friends had heard about what happened before he was able to get in touch with them, explaining his cell phone was locked inside his vehicle.
By the time he was able to get to his phone nearly two hours later, Mr. Normile said he had six voice mails and more text messages than his phone was even able to hold.
Every time I cleared them out, more messages popped up, he said. There were a lot of family and friends concerned about me, and I really appreciate that.
Among those concerned were his parents, Joyce V. Normile and Robert F. Normile, who still live in North Lawrence.
Mrs. Normile said she heard about the shooting after receiving a call from her sons ex-wife, Caroline, who had also called his sister, Kathy Gardner of Helena.
Ms. Gardner then told her to call her former mother-in-law, which she did early Tuesday.
After he was able to access his phone, Mr. Normile said he called his parents at about 8:30 or 9 a.m.
He was pretty shook up, Mrs. Normile said. He was right near the people who got shot. He could hardly talk.
Mrs. Normile said the incident has been startling for her as well.
Im just as shocked as he was, she said. I couldnt believe something like this could happen.
Mrs. Normile said the one thing that sticks out in her mind is how close she came to losing her son, Thomas. He could have been shot, the former postmaster in North Lawrence said.
While he didnt have to work on Wednesday, Mr. Normile said he did drive to the facility to take advantage of counseling services that were being offered by Fed-Ex.
Todays (Wednesday) been a rough day, he said, adding his 14-year-old son, Zachary did not go to school on Wednesday. Mr. Normile also has an 11-year-old son, Wessley, and two older children, Sean and Jessica, who both live in Florida.
My 14-year-old was pretty shook up, Mr. Normile said. He said he had nightmares that the gunman was after him. We need to get him somebody to talk to and I think Im going to keep on going to counseling.
Among the many photographs taken in the aftermath of Tuesdays shooting that appeared in national media is one that shows Mr. Normile hugging his 21-year-old daughter Brittany Normile, as his ex-wife looks on.
They didnt want me to be alone, he said.
Mr. Normile said he was planning to return to work at the warehouse on Thursday.
Its going to be tough, he said. Im going to keep replaying that in my head every time I go up and down the ramp.