Four people were killed -- including the perpetrator -- and another critically wounded Monday night in what police said was a business deal gone bad.
Inside a conference room Monday night at the Naval Business Center, Vincent Dortch accused three Watson International executives of defrauding him as an investor. He then cocked his AK-47 pistol -- a smaller version of the rifle -- aimed it at them and said they had a minute or two to say their prayers.
Seconds later, the 44-year-old opened fire on brothers Mark Norris, 46, from Pine Grove, N.J., and Robert Norris, 31, from Newark, Del., striking them in their heads. James Reif, 42, of Endicott, N.Y., was the third man to lose his life with another bullet to the head, while Patrick Sweeney, from Maple Shade, N.J., was shot twice in the abdomen and was still in critical condition Tuesday afternoon at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Before the nightmare ended, Dortch, from Newark, Del., took his own life as police descended upon him.
"Four lives ended violently over what appears to be an investment deal gone bad," Deputy Commissioner Richard Ross said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference at police headquarters, flanked by Chief Inspector Joseph Fox. "Seven children will never see their fathers again."
The shooter set up the meeting with the men under the pretense of bringing in another investor to Watson Inc., which rented office space from ZigZag Net Inc. -- a Web site development company involved in advertising -- Fox said, adding there is some overlap between the two companies. Mark Norris is listed on the ZigZag Web site as president and CEO.
When the meeting began at 8:30 p.m., Dortch joined the men inside the conference room. Setting down two bags, the shooter pulled out the AK-47, ripped out the phone lines and duct taped the Norris brothers, Sweeney and Reif to their chairs. He then escorted two other men to a nearby office, assuring them they would not be hurt because he believed they had been defrauded as well, Fox said.
The suspect returned to the conference room and opened fire. He then left, but returned moments later and again fired more shots into the Norris brothers' and Reif's heads at point blank range, "probably to make sure they were dead," Public Affairs Capt. Benjamin Naish told the Review.
He then took the two previously escorted-out males to his car, placed the AK-47 in the trunk and told them to drive him to upstate New York, where a fourth executive lived so Dortch could kill him. Somehow the men managed to talk the shooter out of the plan, Fox said. The three re-entered the building and Dortch duct taped the men to chairs in a back office.
Meanwhile, Sweeney, who lay critically wounded in the conference room, managed to splice the torn phone wires together with his loosely bound hands and call 911, Fox said.
First District police burst into the building and confronted Dortch inside an office, ordering them not to come any closer, before firing one shot at police from his Glock .40-caliber pistol, a second weapon in his possession, Fox said. As an officer returned fire, Dortch slammed the door shut and shot himself in the head seconds later, taking his life.
Investigators found the Glock by Dortch's side and the AK-47 pistol in his trunk.
Police are still in the early stages of the probe and are trying to determine if Dortch was defrauded and out of how much, Fox said. Officers also are looking into whether he may have had prior arrests, Fox added.
Stabbed in head
Police arrested a woman after she knifed another in the head during an argument Tuesday.
The two are roommates at an apartment building on the 700 block of South 12th Street, Detective Joe Chiaro of South Detective Division said.
Shortly before 1:30 a.m., police said Tammy White, 25, stabbed the 37-year-old in her head.
The victim went to Jefferson Hospital in stable condition, while White was charged with aggravated and simple assault, possession of an instrument of crime and recklessly endangering another person.
Police recovered the knife.