Police chief: Deadly Winston-Salem shooting an act of 'workplace violence'

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Friday, December 20, 2019
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A deadly shooting at a city building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina was an act of "workplace violence," the city's police chief said Friday

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- A deadly shooting at a city building in Winston-Salem, North Carolina was an act of "workplace violence," the city's police chief said Friday.

Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson told news reporters the gunman at a city building was killed during a gunfight with police officers who responded to the scene. Thompson said when officers arrived at the Joslyn Johnson Municipal Services Center around 6:45 a.m., they could still hear shots being fired.

One officer, Sergeant Cameron Stewart Sloan, was wounded. Thompson said the gunman was 61-year-old Steven Dwayne Haizlip, a city employee. Haizlip is accused of shooting and killing another city employee, Terry Lee Cobb Jr.

Police Captain Steven Tolley said the slain employee and the gunman had a "longstanding dislike for each other," but he couldn't elaborate on the source of their disagreements. Tolley said the two men had been involved in a physical altercation Thursday that wasn't reported at the time to their superiors. Another city employee who was wounded wasn't targeted and was "collateral damage," Tolley said. Tolley said the gunman brought multiple firearms to the shooting Friday.

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines released the following statement late Friday morning:

"On behalf of the City Council, I want to express how deeply saddened we are by the tragic event that occurred this morning involving employees at our Sanitation facility on Lowery Street. Although we do not yet have confirmed details about the incident, our thoughts and prayers are with the employees involved, their families, and their co-workers. We remain dedicated to continuing to ensure that all city employees have a safe and secure work place."

Winston-Salem city spokesman Ed McNeal said: "There is no ongoing threat."

Sanitation worker Dwight Black, 66, was running five minutes late when he parked his car at the facility. He said he was about to swipe his card to enter the building when people ran past him.

"They're shooting. Run!' Black said of the people leaving the building. "Fight or flight. I just followed suit."

"I didn't know what was happening so I just kind of got out of the way until I could ascertain what was going on," he added.

Black ran back to his car and said other people did the same and drove off. He said he just stood back and watched until police arrived.

Black said he was "kind of numb" after the shooting. "Everybody was devastated," he said. "Tough day."

Numerous police cars were on the scene in the late morning. Workers in the reflective gear worn by city sanitation workers were seen standing in a parking lot talking to each other. The scene outside the building appeared calm.

Herbert Martinez told local news outlets a coworker at the site ran out and told him someone was shooting inside the building east of downtown in the city about 245,000 people in the central part of the state. Martinez said he stayed in his truck and heard gunshots. He said he and the coworker ran and hid in a ditch, where they heard more gunshots.

Thompson said the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation will assist with the investigation into the incident.