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Worker taken into custody after GM plant evacuation in Romulus

By Tom Greenwood, Serena Maria Daniels and Melissa Burden

The Detroit News

Romulus - A man threatening suicide with a starter pistol caused the brief evacuation of an auto plant Friday morning, but the incident ended safely with no injuries after police talked the man into surrendering.

The incident occurred at about 6:05 a.m. at General Motors Co.'s Powertrain Plant at 38800 Ecorse Road, Sgt. Cory Sadler said.

According to police, the man had complaints about working conditions at the plant.

"A 911 call came in and stated that there was a male in the building with a gun, and he was threatening suicide," Sadler said. "We immediately sent officers to the plant, plus we had assistance from the Van Buren Township Police Department. By that time, the building had been evacuated."

According to Capt. Joshua Monte, dayshift employees were evacuated into the parking lot of the 1.4 million square-foot plant.

The officers were told by witnesses that the unnamed gunman - described as a longtime employee - was in one of the loading dock areas.

"They entered that area and located him almost right away," Sadler said.

According to Monte, the suspect never aimed his weapon at police, but he did put it to his head and threatened to shoot himself.

"We always treat this sort of situation as real because you just never know," Monte said.

Only after the incident was over did police discover that the weapon was a starter pistol, which shoots blanks.

"Right now he is at a local hospital," Sadler said. "We're discussing possible charges right now."

The incident occurred at the beginning of the first shift at the plant, which has about 300 employees, GM spokesman Bob Wheeler said.

The plant makes V-6 and V-8 engines for a number of GM vehicles. Workers in the plant also build engines for marine and industrial uses.

Workers were evacuated about 6:15 a.m. and returned to work about an hour later, Wheeler said. Once back in the building, they were briefed about the incident in group meetings, he said.

A grief counselor is on site at the plant for employees who may need assistance, and health and safety individuals from the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources also are available to answer employees' questions or concerns, Wheeler said.

GM spokesman Bill Grotz declined to discuss the working conditions alleged by the worker.

"The investigation is continuing," Grotz said. "So I have nothing to say on that matter."

In September, a worker was fatally stabbed at Chrysler Group LLC's Jefferson North Assembly Plant, prompting a lockdown and suspension of production.

A male employee stabbed and slit the throat of another employee with a knife near a loading dock inside the plant. The stabbing suspect was found dead shortly afterward on Belle Isle.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130412/METRO01/304120399#ixzz2QGOWyIWC
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