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Archive for Friday, July 9, 2004

ConAgra shooter was a ‘good guy’ at school

July 9, 2004

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— Elijah Brown, the man who went on a deadly shooting spree at a ConAgra Foods plant last Friday, had recently started learning construction at a nearby technical school.

According to school records, Brown enrolled at the Kansas City Area Technical School on June 1. He was taking construction technology, an 11-month-long course that focuses on home-building techniques, such as framing a new building or installing tar paper for a roof.

Part of the class involved working on an actual construction site.

"According to our records, he had perfect attendance," said school spokeswoman Deb Reynolds.

One of Brown's classmates at the school said he didn't remember Brown ever acting strangely.

"There was no evidence that he would be a shooter," Noah Anderson said. "He was a good guy to us."

Four years ago, Brown attended classes at Job Corps in Excelsior Springs, Mo., where he received his GED in June 2000 and completed classes in the trade school two months later.

An employee at the school said that Brown took courses on home-building there too and was in the ROTC program. The employee described Brown as a leader and a good student.

Police say Brown, apparently upset over ribbing he had received from co-workers, took two handguns from a locker Friday afternoon, walked into an employee lounge during a dinner break and opened fire, killing five people and wounding two others. He then turned the gun on himself.

Few close friends or acquaintances have come forward to provide any insight into why Brown did what he did.

Brown started working at ConAgra last September, company officials said. He was later laid off and then rehired earlier this year.

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