BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The man who killed two former co-workers and then himself at a UPS shipping center Tuesday had told some people that he was having problems at work but never suggested the situation might turn violent, his pastor said.
A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to release the information, identified the shooter as Joe Tesney of suburban Trussville. Tesney and his wife have two children, and they’ve been members at NorthPark Baptist Church since 2003, said the church’s pastor, Bill Wilks.
Wilks described the 45-year-old Tesney as being “troubled” over his work and financial situation. “I think it’s been an ongoing situation,” Wilks said. “In his own spirit he’s been troubled, and he’s asked for prayer about that.”
Tesney and his wife, Melissa, are listed as distributors for Advocare, a multi-level marketing company that sells health and fitness products. They have a website advertising the business that says: “Just tell us your needs, your dreams your desires … and we’ll make it happen!”
UPS spokesman Steve Gaut would not say what Tesney’s job duties had been before his firing was finalized Monday. Court records showed a Birmingham business sued Tesney and UPS in 2010 claiming he had wrongly picked up a $4,000 radiator for shipment either intentionally or by mistake. The lawsuit went on for years before a judge ruled in favor of Tesney and the shipping company exactly one year ago — Sept. 23, 2013.
However, it was not immediately clear why Tesney had been fired or whether that lawsuit may have played a role. The UPS warehouse, a light brown building sitting on a hill with company logos on the front and side, is used to sort packages and send them out on trucks. About 80 drivers had already left on their routes, and a small number remained when the shooter drove up in a private vehicle Tuesday morning and walked inside through a truck dock door in the back of the building, Gaut said.
The building has a parking lot surrounded by barbed wire. The man was wearing a UPS uniform and opened fire either in or near some offices inside the warehouse in an industrial area just north of the Birmingham airport, Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper told reporters.
The gunman had apparently shot himself by the time officers got inside the warehouse, Roper said. No one else was hurt. Employees who were at the warehouse when the shooting happened were being taken to another location so that they could be interviewed by investigators and provided with counseling, Roper said.
Late Tuesday morning, a long line of police cars with their lights flashing left the area as part of a motorcade with a white school bus. Also, a wrecker with a police escort left the scene towing a dark red Honda SUV.
Vonderrick Rogers lives on the same street as the UPS facility and said he drove past the building shortly after it happened. There were already 10 to 15 police officers on the scene with more arriving, he said.
“Cops were jittering and running around like they were ready to go grab somebody,” he said.