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1 dead, 3 in critical condition in workplace shooting

People embrace outside the police lines near where a shooting occurred at a meat plant in Fresno, California, on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

By Jim Guy, The Fresno Bee –

FRESNO, Calif. — One person is dead and three are in critical condition, including the gunman, after a workplace shooting Tuesday morning in Fresno, Calif.

Gunfire broke out about 8:27 a.m. PST at Valley Protein, formerly known as Apple Valley Farms, a poultry processing plant.

Police have identified the alleged shooter as Lawrence Jones, 42, of Fresno, a discharged parolee with an extensive criminal history. He shot himself outside the plant and was described as being in grave condition at Community Regional Medical Center.

Police are trying to find out more about Jones.

“Our biggest hope is that there are not other victims” prior to the shooting, police Chief Jerry Dyer said at a mid-morning news conference held just down the street from the plant.

The chief called the shooting “a tragedy for the city of Fresno.”

Police rushed to the plant after the shooting and found Jones lying on a sidewalk with a head wound and a gun nearby.

They also found 32-year-old woman outside the plant with a gunshot wound to the lower back.

Inside the plant, they found a 32-year-old man dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Officers also found a 34-year-old man with a head wound from a gunshot and another 28-year-old man with a neck wound; both were in critical condition at Community Regional Medical Center, where all the wounded were taken.

The woman was in serious condition but is expected to survive.

Dyer said police have “secured” Jones’ home and are obtaining a warrant to search it.

“Our biggest hope is that there are not other victims out there” who were hurt before Jones went to work, the chief said.

Dyer said when Jones clocked in to work Tuesday morning, workers said that he “did not appear to be himself.”

About 30 coworkers witnessed the shooting at Apple Farms, where 62 people were working when the violence broke out.

Anxious family members surrounded the shooting scene and tried to call and text workers inside. Dyer said that everyone who saw what happened is being interviewed. Several detectives from the department’s Street Violence Bureau are on the scene.

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