Man Kills Self, Hostage at NASA's Johnson Space Center

Man Kills Self, Hostage at NASA's Johnson Space Center
A building at NASA's Johnson Space Center is surrounded by emergency vehicles Friday, April 20, 2007 in Houston. A building at the Johnson Space Center was evacuated Friday after reports of a gunman inside, police said. (Image credit: AP Photo/David J. Phillip.)

UPDATE: Story first post at 7:14 p.m. EST, 07/04/20

HOUSTON (AP) -- A NASA contract worker took a handgun insidean office building Friday at the Johnson Space Center and fatally shot ahostage before killing himself, police said. A second hostage escaped withminor injuries.

The gunman was able to take a snub-nosed revolver past NASAsecurity and barricade himself in the building, which houses communications andtracking systems for the space shuttle, authorities said.

NASA and police identified him as 60-year-old William Phillips.He had apparently had a dispute with the slain hostage, police said.

NASA spokesman Doug Peterson said the agency would reviewits security.

"Any organization would take a good, hard look at thekind of review process we have with people," Peterson said.

To enter the space center, workers flash an ID badge as theydrive past a security guard. The badge allows workers access to designatedbuildings.

NASA identified the slain hostage as David Beverly, a civilservant who worked at the agency. Beverly, who was shot in the chest, wasprobably killed "in the early minutes of the whole ordeal," policesaid.

A second hostage, identified by NASA as Fran Crenshaw,escaped after being bound to a chair with duct tape, police Capt. Dwayne Readysaid.

The gunman, an employee of Jacobs Engineering of Pasadena,Calif., shot himself once in the head more than three hours after the standoffbegan, police said. Initial reports indicated two shots were fired about 1:40 p.m. and another shot was heard about 5 p.m.

John Prosser, executive vice president of JacobsEngineering, confirmed that the gunman was a company employee but declined torelease any information about him.

Police said homicide investigators searched the gunman'shouse where he lived alone and found no guns or any evidence at all about theshooting. Police Chief Harold Hurtt said there was apparently a dispute betweenPhillips and Beverly, but didn't elaborate.

Beverly's wife, Linda, said he was an electrical partsspecialist and had recently celebrated 25 years of service with NASA. She saidher husband had mentioned Phillips to her before, but she declined to say inwhat regard. She said it wouldn't be fair to Phillips.

Mike Coats, the director of the Johnson Space Center, saidPhillips had worked for NASA for 12 to 13 years and "up until recently, hehas been a good employee."

During the confrontation, NASA employees in the buildingwere evacuated and others were ordered to remain in their offices for severalhours. Roads within the 1,600-acre space center campus were also blocked off,and a nearby middle school kept its teachers and students inside as classesended.

Doors to Mission Control were locked as standard procedure.

NASA employees and contract workers were kept informed ofthe situation by e-mail.

Michael Zolensky, who studies cosmic dust, said workers weregathered around a television watching news reports of the situation.

President Bush was informed about the gunman as he flew backto Washington from an event in Michigan, White House spokeswoman Dana Perinosaid.

Jacobs Engineering provides engineering for theinternational space station, space shuttle and other spacecraft programs, andconducts research and development for new technology. In 2005, the companyreceived a five-year contract with the space center worth up to $1.15 billion.

Associated Press writers Rasha Madkour and Mike Graczyk inHouston; Jennifer Loven in Washington, D.C.; Mike Schneider in Orlando, Fla.;and Christina Almeida in Pasadena contributed to this report.

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