A silent and seething employee went on a bloody rampage at Connecticut Lottery Corp.headquarters Friday, killing four senior lottery officials before committing suicide as police closed in.
Lottery President Otho Brown, 54, and former New Britain Mayor Linda A. Blogoslawski Mlynarczyk, 38, were among the victims of what is believed to be the state's deadliest workplace slaughter.
Also killed were Frederick Rubelmann III of Southington, 40, vice president of lottery operations and administration; and Michael Logan, 33, of Colchester, the agency's information systems director.
The killer used a handgun and a knife. Police identified him as Matthew E. Beck, 35, a state lottery accountant involved in a seven-month dispute with the agency over job duties and pay.
Co-workers said Beck, dressed in jeans and a polo shirt, appeared tormented by something when he showed up for work Friday morning at Connecticut Lottery headquarters at 85 Alumni Road. He sat at his desk refusing to speak to co-workers or to remove his tan leather jacket.
Finally, he stood up from his chair and walked past at least a dozen offices toward the administration suite. It was there, police and eyewitnesses said, that Beck began his killing spree.
``It all happened in only a matter of minutes,'' said state Public Safety Commissioner John Connelly.
Amid the hysterical screams of co-workers who ran in blind terror at the sound of gunfire, witnesses said, Beck showed no emotion as he systematically sought out and killed superiors who had been involved in a union grievance he filed last year.
Police said Logan was the first to die, stabbed in the chest and stomach with a military-style knife. Officials were uncertain Friday whether he was also shot.
Beck then shot and killed Mlynarczyk, the lottery's chief financial officer, with a semiautomatic handgun for which he had a permit.
``We heard, `pop, pop, pop.' I just thought something dropped. People started yelling to get out of the building,'' said Marion Tercyak, a state lottery accountant who worked in the same suite of offices with Beck. ``Security and Ott [Brown] were yelling for people to keep running, to run into the woods.''
After Logan and Mlynarczyk were killed, chaos broke out among some of the more than 100 state workers assigned to lottery headquarters. Unsure of what was happening, employees flooded out of the building and tried to find cover behind cars, trees and bushes. Beck shot Rubelmann inside the building as he tried to direct workers to safety, police and witnesses said.
Outside in the parking lot, Brown was screaming for workers to run into the woods behind the building. From about 50 yards away, workers watched helplessly as Beck chased Brown into an overflow parking lot that was empty of cars.
Barbara Doody, who is also an accountant, said she thought Brown was trying to lead Beck away from the frightened employees.
Brown stumbled and fell to the gravel lot, enabling Beck to catch up to him. Witnesses said Brown pleaded for his life as Beck stared down at him dispassionately.
``I was screaming, `Matthew don't, Matthew don't!'' Doody said. ``Then Otho puts his arm up in the air. That's when Beck walks right up to him and pulls the trigger. There was no expression on Matthew's face. Nothing.''
As police arrived moments later and drew their weapons, Beck put his pistol to his head and pulled the trigger. Beck was airlifted to Hartford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
At an afternoon news conference that attracted more than 100 print and broadcast reporters and photographers to Newington Town Hall, Connelly, the state public safety commissioner, said that Beck suffered from job-related stress and had returned to work Feb. 25 after a four-month medical leave. The leave of absence appeared to be directly related to an unresolved grievance Beck filed in August in which he complained he was forced to perform duties not in his job description, Connelly said.
Beck was performing a computer-related job in Logan's division but was still being paid as an accountant, a position that generally is paid about $2 an hour less than the computer job, according to state records. Beck earned $45,400 a year.
Connelly said state police believe that their investigation will show that Beck was deeply resentful about the way his grievance was handled and the way he perceived he was being treated. The victims did not appear to be targeted randomly and were all involved in the grievance process.
Gov. John G. Rowland raced to the scene after aides interrupted a morning meeting to tell him about the shooting. Rowland, who appointed Brown and Mlynarczyk, ordered state flags lowered until sundown Monday. Friday's lottery drawings were postponed.
Rowland tried to console some of the lottery office workers, some of whom appeared to be in shock as they boarded two school buses so detectives could interview them at the town hall. About 25 grief counselors also consoled the workers, who were brought to the town council chambers and kept away from members of the media who had come to the scene from across New England and the New York metropolitan area.
``Most of us have picked up newspapers in the morning and read about these unnecessary tragedies occurring, but it always seems to occur somewhere else, presumably a faraway place,'' Rowland said at the news conference. ``This morning, we learned that these unnecessary tragedies can even occur in our own communities and in our state.''
Rowland said all four victims were dedicated public servants and that he was a friend of Brown and Mlynarczyk.
``Today, I call on the people of Connecticut to join together in prayer and to pray and remember the four deceased indviduals. It is one of the worst possible tragedies that can happen to a community and a state,'' Rowland said. ``The whole state mourns this unexplained act of violence. . . . I pray this type of unnecessary act of violence never happens again.''
U.S. Rep. Barbara B. Kennelly, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, stood next to Rowland at the press conference and also offered condolences to the victims' families and grieving co-workers.
Chief State's Attorney John M. Bailey said the shooting was one of the worst workplace shooting incidents in recent memory and the first involving state employees in a government building.
Scores of investigators fanned out across the state Friday to notify victims' families and gather evidence and clues to what motivated Beck to apparently take his work frustrations out on senior lottery managers.
Beck, who was not married, rented an apartment in Cromwell before moving into his father's home in Ledyard around the time he took his leave of absence late last year. In January 1997, family members called Cromwell police to check on his well-being because they feared he might be suicidal, Cromwell police said.
According to a resume Beck submitted when he applied for a state auditor's job, he claimed to be a former security guard with experience with firearms and ``tactical response training and situational analysis.''
As the state's media assembled and what seemed like a fleet of unmarked state police cruisers continued to arrive at lottery headquarters, a large number of lottery office workers milled around outside as they waited for instructions and consoled each other. Several workers who appeared to be in shock were examined by paramedics. Nearby, Brown's body still lay covered in the parking lot.
Shannon O'Neill, a lottery field representative, said she was in the woods with co-workers when Beck moved in on Brown. She heard three shots and someone shout, ``Ott's been shot! Ott's been shot!''
O'Neill and several other workers said they thought Brown was intentionally leading Beck away from the building.
``I think Mr. Brown knew what was going on. I think he was a hero,'' she said. ``I'm sure he saved a lot of people's lives today.''
A worker who knew Beck said that lately he seemed withdrawn, had lost weight and appeared sickly.
``He seemed like a normal, personable fellow,'' said John Krinjak of Manchester, a field administrator. ``I did notice a few months ago that he began to change. He got into a shell; he was moody and he lost that joviality . . . . He had a very severe look about him.''
Newington resident John Dempsey said he never imagined that anything so horrible as a mulitiple murder had occurred when he heard all the ambulances and police cars scream down Alumni Road.
``I am just shocked. Things like this seem to be happening too often these days,'' said Dempsey, whose neighbor works in the lottery office. ``You would think it being a prize-claim center it would be a happy place.''
Tercyak said the nightmare she and her co-workers lived Friday has yet to fully sink in.
``There's no way to deal with it. They had a lot of help for us, people to talk to. There's all the adrenalin, and they sort of hustle you along,'' she said. ``And you really don't get time to stop and think about it. This is really going to hurt.'' Later Friday, the governor visited Logan's wife and children in Colchester to express his condolences, and spoke with Brown's wife on the telephone. He will attend the funerals of all four of Beck's victims.
Nicholas T. Manno, vice president of marketing for the Connecticut Lottery Corp., was appointed as its acting chief executive officer pending approval by its board of directors.
Courant Staff Writer Staff writers Lyn Bixby, Matthew Hay Brown, Lisa Chedekel, Andrew Julien, Al Lara, Jon Lender, Edmund Mahony, Mike McIntire, Mark Pazniokas and Hilary Waldman contributed to this report.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times