JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police said a 24-year-old man showed up for work at B&L Landscaping Co. on Wednesday morning, walked up to his 55-year-old supervisor, Andrew Little, and shot him in the back.
Little died at the scene.
Ezequiel Lopez was arrested by officers called to a report of a shooting at the business on Spaner Road, off U.S. 1 south of the Avenues Mall. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said officers blocked his car before he could leave the property. He was arrested without incident and charged with first-degree murder.
Lt. Steve Gallaher said Lopez told detectives that Little had disrespected him, treated him different and paid him less than other employees.
"There was a brief struggle between the two of them. Andrew Little fell to the ground and the suspect attempted to shoot Mr. Little again. They think the gun malfunctioned and the suspect then ran to his car," Gallaher said.
News4Jax learned that Lopez is an illegal immigrant. At a first-appearance hearing Thursday, a judge denied bond for Lopez, who is also under an Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold. Lopez is scheduled to be arraigned on March 31.
News4Jax spoke to a witness who saw Wednesday’s work place shooting unfold before his eyes. He told News4Jax that he tried to help the victim but it was too late. He also says more people should be armed.
“I was sitting there talking to the other foreman and I heard a gunshot. So I look over at Buck, the owner of the company and he goes 'somebody is firing,'” said Dick.
Chris Dick, 24, described the shooting as controlled chaos-- when the business he worked at for three years erupted in terror Wednesday morning.
“That point one of the other employees come around the corner and he goes, 'Zeke's got a gun and someone been shot,'” Dick said.
Dick said his four years of being in the Marine Corps and touring in Afghanistan flashed before eyes as he rushed to help Little.
“I noticed he had got shot in the back and I went to check for an exit wound and there was none, he had no pulse, he wasn't breathing, he had passed away,” said Dick.
News4Jax asked Dick, if the outcome would’ve been different if he was armed.
“I would have killed him, I would have shot and killed him,” said Dick.
Dick hopes this incident will help create a conversation where those with concealed gun permits are allowed to carry in more places.
“People are going to want to defend themselves-- which I support. You should have the feeling of protection,” Dick said.
Little was the second person killed in a workplace shooting in Jacksonville this week.
"If you have an issue with anger, you are not going to be able to manage it on your own," said Mike Staver, a coach and author on anger management issues. "I mean, if you're the kind of person who you just feel the heat inside you and you feel the anger and you just want to hit something or yell or throw something, that's not going to get better on its own."
Staver said there are triggers that can lead to violence…
"They'll say things like, 'This is unfair,' and, 'This doesn't happen to anybody else,' and, 'Why does this happen to me?' Those are all signs that this person is winding up," Staver said. "When a person reaches the level that they are going to act out, it's generally because those three thoughts are so dominant in their mind that they have to displace the rage on you. It's usually (on) somebody (they) care about or somebody they know personally."
Staver said a huge problem is other employees not reporting rage or anger to the company's management.
"When asked why they didn't report it, most people say want to do one of two things: 'I didn't take it seriously,' or, 'I was afraid that if I did report it, they would do it.' That's completely backwards," Staver said.
It's unclear if employees had reported Lopez's behavior before, but Staver says it's a good reminder to everyone that if someone is making threats, tell someone.
He encourages anyone who knows a person dealing with anger to suggest getting help. He says his message to people dealing with anger issues - there are better ways and other alternatives to make things fair and get back in control without having to act out on other people.
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