A massive manhunt continues this afternoon for a man suspected of fatally shooting three people and injuring six others earlier today at a Cupertino cement plant where he worked, then shooting another woman in an attempted carjacking in Sunnyvale, authorities said.
Shareef Allman, 47, is suspected of a shooting that occurred at about 4:15 a.m. at the Lehigh Southwest Cement Plant at 24001 Stevens Creek Blvd. in Cupertino, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said at a noontime news conference.
Allman, a San Jose resident who worked as a haul truck driver at the plant, showed up for an early morning meeting, then left briefly before returning and allegedly opening fire on his fellow employees in the meeting, sheriff’s officials said.
Smith said Allman was disgruntled at his employer, but did not know what the issue was. A total of 15 people were in the meeting, nine of which were struck by the gunfire, Smith said. Two men were pronounced dead at the scene while a third was taken to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries, she said. Their names are not yet being released.
The six other injured cement plant employees were also hospitalized, some of whom remain in critical condition this afternoon, Smith said. After fleeing the worksite, Allman allegedly attempted to take a woman’s car at gunpoint shortly before 7 a.m. in a Hewlett-Packard company parking lot near the intersection of Homestead Road and Tantau Avenue. When the woman refused, he shot her once before fleeing, sheriff’s officials said. The woman was taken to a hospital to be treated for her injuries, which are not considered life-threatening.
A Mercury sedan associated with Allman was later found at an Arco gas station at the intersection of Wolfe and Homestead roads, the last place he has been seen today, Smith said. Authorities recovered a shotgun, handgun and two assault rifles that allegedly belonged to Allman, Smith said. Sheriff’s officials have also obtained surveillance footage from the gas station that shows him walking away from the car with a rifle, she said.
Allman is considered armed and dangerous. He is described as a black man who is about 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 215 pounds. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call a tip line at (408) 808-4500. “We’re asking the public to be safe and give us any information that they have,” Smith said.
Several police departments in the South Bay are assisting the sheriff’s office, as is an FBI SWAT team and U.S. Marshals, she said. Schools near the scenes of the two shootings have been locked down today while the gunman remains on the loose, and residents in the area were notified by the county’s AlertSCC telephone system, Smith said. Employees at Apple, which has its headquarters in Cupertino, have also been told to stay inside their offices during the manhunt, an employee said.
Some of Allman’s coworkers expressed shock and sadness about the shootings.
Charles Bryan, a 50-year-old Salinas resident who was working as a subcontractor for Lehigh for the past few weeks, said Allman seemed normal on Monday, but on Tuesday “seemed sour.” He was not acknowledging his coworkers and was “walking around with blinders on,” Bryan said. “This is just really weird,” he said. “People die occasionally in our field but people don’t come to work and kill people.” Another coworker of Allman’s, who did not want to be named, said “he’s a nice guy … from what I’ve heard he was great to work with.” Mike Weltz, a representative for Operating Engineers Local 3, which represents about 30 Lehigh employees, said Allman had worked at the cement plant for at least 15 years and had just returned from a four-week vacation.
Weltz said the meeting where the shooting occurred was held to discuss safety procedures such as proper climbing techniques into and out of the quarry. Lehigh CEO Dan Harrington said in a statement, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.” Harrington said he was committing the company’s resources to assisting the affected employees. Along with working at the plant, Allman also volunteered as a producer at the San Jose public access TV channel CreaTV and wrote a book, “Amazing Grace,” that addressed domestic violence issues, according to his Facebook page and videos posted on YouTube.