CLINTON COUNTY, Ind. — Police are investigating a shooting at the new NHK plant on State Road 28 in Clinton County that left two women dead.
Investigators say the two victims were a woman and her granddaughter, who worked together at the plant and had just arrived for their shift, when the suspect, a fellow co-worker who had just finished working, walked up to them outside the plant and shot them.
“I was three cars down from it and I stood there because I didn’t want him to know that I was there, to get shot myself,” said employee and eyewitness Jeffrey Church, who didn’t know the gunman’s name, but recognized his face.
Police later identified the man as 26-year-old Gary C. Ferrell II of Frankfort.
“I don’t know who he was. He worked in a different department than I do,” said Church. “I saw him pull out a gun and shoot her, two or three times, shot her and then shot her in the head,” Church said of the two women.
Police identified the victims as 21-year-old Promise Mays and her 62-year-old grandmother Pamela Sledd.
“This is something you can’t prepare for, but watch it happen in other cities and other states, other areas and other part of this world and you hope and pray it never happens at home,” said Clinton County Sheriff Rich Kelly.
Wednesday, the 911 calls came from Clinton County, several of them just after 4:15 p.m. from employees at the plant who identified Ferrell as the shooter.
Police said a description of the blue Ford Focus, which witnesses said Ferrell took off in, helped a sheriff’s deputy identify him within a minute after he left the plant. When that officer tried to pull Ferrell over, police say, the suspect took off, crashing soon after into a construction zone in nearby Frankfort.
According to investigators, Ferrell wasn’t injured in the crash and gave up without a fight.
The ATF and FBI are investigating, now searching Ferrell’s car and Frankfort home to help understand why he did what he did.
A family member of the victims told 13News via phone, that Ferrell had asked 21-year-old Mays out, but she declined.
Investigators have not confirmed this.
“It is devastating and it’s going to take a long time to heal from this I’m sure,” said Kelly.
Sadly, Church can agree, after seeing firsthand, the tragedy unfold in front of him.
“I don’t believe it happened. I mean, you never know,” he said.
NHK Seating of America opened its second Clinton County plant, where Wednesday's shooting occurred, just three months ago. The company closed both facilities in Frankfort after the shootings.
Wednesday night, Kelly released the following statement about the shootings:
“I am deeply angered and appalled by the violent crime that took place in our community this afternoon. This behavior will simply not be tolerated. We are working feverishly with the Clinton County Prosecutor’s Office to gather evidence and statements so that we may move forward with charges in the next couple of days.
I want to express my sincere condolences to the family of Ms. Sledd and Ms. Mays. I pray they are in the hands of God this evening and that their families can find comfort in the days and weeks ahead.
To the employees of NHK who witnessed this horrifying scene, our chaplains will be available, as will counseling provided by NHK. Our hearts are with all of you.
To my Deputies- ‘the wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28)’… This afternoon you pursued evil and you chased him into an unknown, where you safely apprehended him with no harm to yourselves or to others. I am humbled with pride to represent such bravery and professionalism.
To the other responding officers of Frankfort Police and Mulberry, I thank you for following us into the fight. I can’t give our Central Dispatch enough credit for the amazing job they do getting our first responders vital information to render aid to victims and to capture suspects.
I want to personally thank all of the other agencies who supported the Sheriff’s Office this afternoon- the Salvation Army, ISP, FBI, ATF, Coroner’s Office, EMS, Fire, and our wrecker services from Jerry’s and Miller’s. Thank you to our Chaplains for their response to our scene and to our Correctional Staff for their professionalism in receiving the suspect. Our first responders are all top notch in their respective professions and I am proud to serve with all of them!
Please continue to pray for the families of the victims. Pray for NHK. Pray for our First Responders. Love and support one another and stay safe.”