Reports are coming in that today in the NASA Johnson Space Center (where Houston Mission Control is located), in Nassau Bay, Texas a gunman fatally shot a hostage and then shot himself in the head at approximately 5:00 p.m. today (April 20) more than three hours after barricading himself on the second floor of Building 44.  Nasa security got the call at 1:40 p.m. of a man with a weapon in the building where engineers work on communications systems.  Another female hostage was unhurt, although she was found bound with duct tape.  The FBI is currently working on the scene.

Doors to Mission Control were locked as standard procedure during the crisis and employees were kept abreast of the situation via email.  I spoke with one employee who works for another of NASA’s subcontractors and she said “I was amazed that it only took them about an hour to track over 1,600 employees and know where everyone was.  They (meaning the management) did an amazing job.”

At this time there is no none motive for this terrible incident and none of those involved have been identified probably pending notification of next-of-kin.  The gunman is believed to be an employee of Jacobs Engineering, a tech-support contractor for NASA.  Some employees were able to watch news reports of the situation.

As someone who has family members and friends that work for NASA I am personally shocked and saddened that this happened so close to home.  I called my loved ones and thankfully they are OK and I hope I don’t know the person who did this or innocent hostage who was killed.  NASA security has been pretty tight since 9/11 and all visitors must sign in and have a badge – not that it would have helped this situation where the gunman was an employee.  I know that many people will use this situation, along with the tragedy at Virginia Tech, as a platform to air their grievances against current gun laws which I think is like comparing apples to oranges.  I think that psychopaths in a fit of homicidal rage can’t be stopped by gun control because if they can’t get a gun they’ll just get a knife.  I think the real problem is that we as a whole are so insulated from each other with work, email, cell phones, chores, etc. that we are to busy to notice the person next to us in the desk or cubicle who is either in pain or clearly a danger…and I just don’t know what the answer to that is.

My heart goes out to the victims and I assume we will be given their names sometime tonight or tomorrow.  I will update everyone as soon as I find out.


Update:  The slain hostage’s name is David Beverly and he was shot in the chest.  The second hostage, Fran Crenshaw, a contract employee with MRI Technologies, was unharmed.  The gunman’s has been identified as William Phillips, a 50-60 yr. old employee of Jacob’s Engineering of Pasadena, CA.  He was unmarried, lived alone and had no children.  Coworker’s described Phillips as the office ‘hot-head’ but there is still no known motive at this time although the speculation is that it was “work related”.

 The below photo is courtesy KHOU in Houston.

Building 44 KHOU






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