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Emanuel Burl PATTERSON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Argument over a CD player
Number of victims: 4
Date of murder: February 23, 2003
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1979
Victims profile: Billy Knox Sr., 61, and his son Billy Knox Jr., 22; Benjamin Ferguson, 47, and David Seiler, 46
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Huntsville, Alabama, USA
Status: Died on January 21, 2012
 
 
 
 
 
 

Gunman Kills Four at Alabama Job Agency

The New York Times

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

A man looking for work opened fire today at a temporary employment agency in an argument over a CD player, killing four fellow job-seekers and wounding a fifth, the police said.

Hours later, officials said, the gunman surrendered after a standoff at his apartment, where the police had tracked him down using the address he had put on his job applications. The authorities had turned off the building's electricity in near-freezing temperatures.

The man was identified as Emanuel Burl Patterson, 23.

The police said the man shot at officers early in the standoff.

The killings took place about 6:30 a.m. in the lobby of Labor Ready Inc., where as many as 15 people were gathered, waiting for work.

''A fight broke out among two groups of men over a CD player,'' said a police spokesman, Wendell Johnson.

Mr. Patterson regularly went to the office looking for work and was known to employees and other laborers, he said.

''People who know him say he is a very unstable individual,'' Mr. Johnson said. He did not elaborate.

Michael Tucker Jr. said his father was in the office and told him the argument ''was all over something about CD's and $20.'' They were ''pushing him, laughing at him,'' he said. ''They pushed him into a corner.''

Patricia Johnson, 38, told The Huntsville Times that the gunman turned his handgun on her and pulled the trigger, but the weapon did not fire. She ran into a closet where three or four people were hiding.

Three people were dead at the scene and a fourth died in surgery. The police said the wounded man was hit in the leg.

The gunman drove off after the shooting.

The dead were identified as Billy Knox Sr., 61, and his son Billy Knox Jr., 22, both of Huntsville; Benjamin Ferguson, 47, of Huntsville; and David Seiler, 46, a Tennessee man whose hometown was not immediately available.

Labor Ready, based in Tacoma, Wash., describes itself as the nation's largest provider of temporary manual labor for light industry and small businesses.

The Labor Ready office is next to a building that houses law enforcement agencies, including state troopers and investigators for the sheriff's department.

 
 

Gunman in Alabama shooting rampage charged with capital murder

Feb. 26, 2003

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) A man accused of going on a deadly shooting rampage in the lobby of a temporary employment agency was charged Wednesday with capital murder.

Emanuel Burl Patterson, 23, killed four men and wounded a fifth Tuesday in a rage apparently sparked by taunts and an argument over a CD player, authorities said.

A capital murder charge carries a possible death sentence if convicted. He also was charged with attempted murder, said Heather Douglas, a spokeswoman for the Madison County district attorney's office.

Patterson was jailed without bond. There was no record of him having an attorney yet.

"It happened in just moments," said Police Chief Compton Owens, describing the carnage as "a scene that words cannot describe."

The violence erupted at 6:30 a.m. at Labor Ready Inc., where as many as 15 people had gathered waiting for work. Patterson had often been at the agency to get work as a day laborer.

Huntsville police spokesman Wendell Johnson said while waiting, two groups of men began arguing over a CD player. Patterson then made a remark about settling the argument, pulled out a gun and opened fire, authorities said.

Eight hours later, Patterson surrendered after police surrounded his apartment building, evacuating everyone nearby. Authorities allege that Patterson, who was apparently holed up alone, shot at officers during the standoff, though no one was hit.

"People who know him say he is a very unstable individual," Johnson said, without elaborating.

Madison County District Attorney Tim Morgan said capital murder charges were likely. Conviction could carry the death penalty, or life in prison.

Morgan added that Patterson previously had only minor run-ins with the law.

According to witnesses, a seemingly petty argument quickly escalated at the agency. Michael Tucker Jr., whose father was in the Labor Ready office when the gunfire erupted, said his father told him the argument "was all over something about CDs and $20."

"There was some guys picking at (the gunman) and pushing him, laughing at him," Tucker said. "They pushed him into a corner."

Tucker said the suspect "stepped out, stepped back in and immediately started shooting."

"He shot the first guy in the head and then shot another guy and tried to shoot a woman," Tucker said. "He just started pointing the gun all over."

Police Lt. Vince Dauro said he found two of the dead on the floor of an entryway inside the building. Two other victims were on the ground outside, one dead and the other with fatal wounds who died at a hospital, Dauro said.

Patricia Johnson, 38, told The Huntsville Times the gunman turned his weapon on her and pulled the trigger, but it did not fire. She ran into a closet where three or four people already were hiding.

Chester Horton said Patterson had moved in early last week at the single-story brick apartment building where the siege ended. Horton, who lives in the building, said he was awakened about 7 a.m. by a noise like a gunshot or slamming door. He and his two sons were able to get out safely as police swarmed the area.

Horton described Patterson as "a strange guy" who seemed aloof and quiet.

According to police and witnesses, the gunman shot to death Billy Knox Jr., 22, and his father, Billy Knox Sr., 61, both of Huntsville, inside the building, then turned the gun on others at random.

Police said Benjamin Ferguson, 47, of Huntsville, was killed as he ran down the front steps, and David Seiler, 46, from Tennessee, was shot on the front steps and died at a hospital. A fifth man, Royce Henderson, 46, of Huntsville, was shot in the leg and survived.

 
 


Police respond to the Labor Ready Inc. temporary employment agency in Huntsville, Ala., after five people were shot. The shootings, which left four people dead, occurred during an argument over a compact disc player.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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