Worker 'thankful' he wasn't 'sitting duck' during shooting

MERIDIAN, Miss. (BP)--On any normal day at the Lockheed Martin plant in Meridian, Miss., electrician Mark Roberts is several feet off the ground, on a hydraulic lift, working in the ceiling. On July 8, for some reason, he was not.

On this day, the same day that a gunman would enter the plant and kill five people, a hose on his hydraulic lift broke. Instead of in the air, Roberts, a deacon at Northcrest Baptist Church in Meridian, was on the floor.

When the gunman entered the building, Roberts was able to run.

"I've been wondering, what would have happened if I was had still been up in that ceiling? I would have been a sitting duck," he told Baptist Press.

Roberts said the hydraulic lift hose "never" breaks, but it broke July 8 "for no apparent reason." He works as an electrical contractor and has been working at Lockheed Martin lately.

"It's just God's mercy that I wasn't in the ceiling," he said. "I'm thankful for that."

As it turned out, Roberts was roughly 50 feet from one of the victims. When the gunman, Doug Williams, entered the factory shooting, Roberts was unsure what to make of the noise.

"I heard four shots, but at the time I did not know they were shots," he said. Roberts thought it was something exploding in the factory.

"Then I heard a scream. A bunch of people started running," and Roberts followed. "When I was running to the back [toward an exit] I saw a trail of blood, and that's when it hit me that somebody was shooting."

Roberts bumped into another electrician he had been working with. His friend, in fact, said the gunman pointed the gun at him but did not fire. Roberts said they had "no idea" why the gunman didn't shoot.

The employees took cover outside the plant while police swarmed the building. Roberts said he prayed several times.

"I wasn't scared to death," he said. "Everything was calm with me. ... I can't really explain it."

Later in the day Roberts went to Northcrest Baptist to visit with his pastor, Malcolm Lewis.

"He was pretty shook up but he was so grateful that the Lord had spared his life," Lewis said.


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