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1 Dead, 2 Hurt in Shootings at State Hospital

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A painter at a state hospital for the developmentally disabled shot to death one of his supervisors Tuesday and wounded two others, capping months of clashes between the man and his bosses over his charges of racism on the job and their complaints about his behavior, police said.

The shootings, which occured at the Fairview Developmental Center, shattered the normal tranquility of the 1,100-patient facility. Dozens of frantic employees were evacuated from the administration building while others were warned to stay in their offices. Physicians broke from treating patients to respond to the emergency.

Some patients and volunteer workers were apparently sealed off in activity areas. The suspect never came in contact with any patients, however, police said.

The gunman, armed with a .32-caliber pistol, shot two of his supervisors in the hospital paint shop, killing one, before driving to the administration building, where he struggled with the hospital’s executive director and wounded him as a secretary hid under a desk, according to police. During the incident, a witness said, the suspect chased one victim down a hallway, firing several rounds before the victim staggered and fell.

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An hour later, about 10:30 a.m., Michael Rahming, 37, of Long Beach was arrested quietly at his apartment by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Nondice Mason.

“ ‘Officer, officer, I am the one you’re looking for,’ ” Mason recalled Rahming saying as he motioned to her.

He was being held Tuesday at the Costa Mesa Jail on suspicion of murder. Bail was set at $250,000.

Rahming, who is black, has a history of psychiatric treatment, according to medical records at Fairview. Rahming said he was the victim of discrimination and harassment on the job and complained that racism had deterred his job progress, according to witnesses and records at Fairview.

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He had filed several grievances, including one that his local union had begun investigating this week. Police theorize that Rahming’s mounting frustration led to Tuesday’s fatal outburst.

Killed in the attack was Allen Motis, 53, of Garden Grove, who worked as the hospital’s building and trades supervisor. Police say he was shot three times--once in the head and twice in the back.

In fair condition at UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange with gunshot wounds were James Herbert Pichon, 36, a painting supervisor from El Toro, and Hugh Kohler, 43, of Costa Mesa, the facility’s executive director.

The shootings marked the third time in recent weeks that a disgruntled employee had returned to work at a Southland office allegedly attempting to settle job disputes with a gun.

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Less than two months ago, a laid-off electronics technician, Larry T. Hansel, stormed the Elgar Corp. in San Diego and killed two executives, police said.

In El Cajon Monday--Jack Richard Currier, a former employee who upset over a workers’ compensation claim that had been denied, returned to Fleetwood Manufacturing Co. and shot his former boss, Phil Allen Bates, in the leg.

In Tuesday’s incident, Costa Mesa Police SWAT team members, armed with shields, arrived within minutes of the 9:42 a.m. call and closed off the 513-acre site on Harbor Boulevard--one of seven residential-care facilities in California operated by the state Department of Developmental Services.

They discovered that the suspect had been seen fleeing in a white Toyota pickup truck.

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Dressed in his white painter’s garb, Rahming walked into a break room at the hospital’s painting facility and shot Pichon and Motis, who were sitting at a table with several other men, according to police and witnesses.

Motis was found a few yards from the scene of the shooting and pronounced dead at Western Medical Center in Santa Ana.

Pichon staggered from the building with a towel or some other object pressed against his head wound, a witness said.

According to the witness, hospital transportation employee Marvin Pass, Pichon yelled, “I’m shot, I’m shot,” as he staggered from the building.

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It was not immediately clear which victim was shot while trying to flee.

Police said that shortly after those shootings, Rahming appeared in the hallway near Kohler’s office. Kohler, Rahming and a third man then struggled, police said. Kohler was shot once, perhaps in the neck or the scalp, according to one witness.

According to Fairview records, hospital administrators had been concerned about Rahming’s mental health for at least a year and had sought a psychiatric evaluation last July when his behavior became “erratic.” The suspect had been disciplined for tardiness and other unspecified problems, officials said.


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