911 tapes in Orlando shooting show chaos, panic

AP News
Posted: Nov 10, 2009 9:17 PM

A man wounded in last week's Orlando office shooting frantically told an emergency dispatcher to hurry because he worried the gunman would return, 911 tapes released by police Tuesday show.

The unnamed caller whispered he had been shot in the leg and was afraid to stay on the phone after the gunman opened fire inside the engineering firm of Reynolds, Smith and Hills, killing one person and injuring five others.

"I'm shot in the leg ... I'm sorry. Hurry please," the man whispered to a police dispatcher. "I can't stay on the phone, he may come back."

Another man told a dispatcher he recognized the shooter as a former employee and breathlessly said there were about 40 people in the office when four to five shots were fired. A female caller said she was in the parking garage tending to two wounded men, one of them in bad shape. One man can be heard groaning "We've got to get out of here."

Four other 911 calls were also released Tuesday. One from a woman outside reported people running from the building saying someone was inside shooting. A UPS delivery man told a dispatcher he walked into the office and saw a man lying on the floor and blood on the door handle.

Jason Rodriguez, 40, was captured soon after Friday's shooting at his mother's apartment.

A former employee of the firm, Rodriguez has been charged with first-degree murder and is on suicide watch at the Orange County Jail.

Authorities say Rodriguez told detectives that he blamed Reynolds, Smith and Hills for hindering his efforts to secure unemployment benefits. Company officials are perplexed at that explanation given, saying he had worked elsewhere since leaving the firm.

An attorney for Rodriguez has portrayed the 40-year-old as a mentally ill man who fell victim to countless personal and financial problems.

Rodriguez left his engineering job at the firm two years ago and hadn't been able to find comparable employment since. He most recently made less than $30,000 a year at a Subway sandwich shop. A police report released Tuesday showed that he tried to drive his SUV into the shop on Sept. 17. The franchise owners confirmed in a statement that they called police about an incident "at the time of his termination," but they declined further comment.

The manager told police Rodriguez drove across the sidewalk and into the restaurant's wall. He gestured for the manager to come outside, then he parked in an adjacent lot for a few minutes before driving away.

The manager told officers that Rodriguez had been scheduled to meet with him and a regional manager that morning because Rodriguez become verbally abusive a day earlier and was sent home.

Rodriguez did not return to the restaurant and the manager told officers on Oct. 10 that he no longer wanted to pursue aggravated assault charges.

Otis Beckford, 26, was the lone fatality in the shooting. All five people who were injured in the shooting have been released from the hospital.