COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio State University janitor who was about to lose his job walked into a maintenance building for his early-morning shift yesterday and shot two supervisors, killing one of them, before fatally shooting himself. No students were hurt.
Nathaniel Brown, 51, arrived for work at the nation’s largest university dressed in dark clothing, a hooded sweat shirt, and a backpack. He opened fire in an office suite using two handguns, campus Police Chief Paul Denton said.
Brown spent five years in prison in the 1970s and ’80s for receiving stolen property but lied about it on his job application, records show. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Ohio State had done the required background check on him.
Ohio State released documents from Brown’s personnel file showing that supervisors complained he was tardy, slept on the job, and had problems following instructions. The university sent him a letter March 2 informing him that his employment was to end Saturday.
About a half-dozen other employees were in the building when the shooting began, Denton said. He described the shooting as work-related but didn’t give a motive.
The shooting was reported at 3:30. Police tactical units surrounded the building and found Brown with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a garage bay, Denton said. He was pronounced dead at a campus hospital several hours later.
One of the victims, Larry Wallington, 48, building services manager, died at the scene. The other, Henry Butler, 60, operations shift leader, was in stable condition at Ohio State University Medical Center, officials said.
Butler wrote a letter Feb. 11 recommending that Brown be terminated, according to records released by the university. Even though colleagues had made a special effort to help Brown, he was not improving, the letter said.
Brown, who was still on probation as a recent hire, had recently complained to a union representative that his supervisors were being unfair in their evaluation of him, said Richard Murray, president of Communications Workers of America Local 4501, which represents custodial workers at Ohio State.