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Print Shop Massacre Gunman Told Fellow Worker His Intentions

October 1, 1989 GMT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A man who shot eight co-workers to death at a print shop told a colleague of his plans and even showed him the gun, but the threat was not heeded by others or reported to management, a newspaper reported Sunday.

James R. Lucas told The Courier-Journal that no one took him seriously when he warned co-workers of Joseph Wesbecker’s plans.

Wesbecker, 47, entered the Standard Gravure Corp. plant on Sept. 14 with an AK-47 assault rifle and shot 20 people before killing himself with a 9mm semiautomatic pistol.

Wesbecker, an 18-year employee, had been placed on long-term disability about seven months earlier because of psychiatric problems.

Wesbecker’s first warning to Lucas was made in late 1987 or early 1988 when Wesbecker opened a brown bag and showed him a .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver, the newspaper said.

Lucas said Wesbecker told him he was angry at supervisors and ″that if any one of them came up to him and said anything other than what pertained to work-related conversation, that he was going to blow their brains out.″

Another warning came a few weeks ago when Wesbecker confided the names of six people he intended to kill during a conversation at Lucas’ house.

All of the six had been pressroom supervisors, if only briefly, or had been part of management. None was killed in the assault.

Wesbecker also told Lucas of an exotic plan to blow up the company using plastic explosives on a remote-controlled airplane, the newspaper said.

Just as he had done 18 months earlier, when Wesbecker displayed the gun, Lucas began warning others. He told some of the intended victims. He told co- workers. He told the head of his department.

But for a variety of reasons, including the scheme’s improbability, Lucas’ fears weren’t shared. The scheme, however, became common knowledge among pressroom workers and supervisors, but upper management was never informed.

Donald Cox, pressroom superintendent and one of Lucas’ targets, told the newspaper that he didn’t take Lucas’ warnings seriously because he doubted Wesbecker was skilled enough to pull off the airplane scheme. He also said he believed Wesbecker was satisfied with the arrangements of his disability leave.

Lucas, however, said he knew better.

″I knew something was going to happen, but I didn’t know when or what time or where it was coming from,″ he said. ″Every day I hid in different dark spots of the plant. I didn’t go in the pressroom or stay around the presses,″ he said.

″I think what he was doing, he was reaching out to me and I didn’t grasp it,″ he said. ″I didn’t grasp it. I didn’t grasp it. God forgive me, I didn’t grasp it.″