ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A devoted father always photographing the games of his teenagers, now orphaned by a workplace shooting. A loving husband who “would give the shirt off his back” for anyone in need. A grandfather “taken way too soon.”
Friends and family members grieved Tuesday over the losses of loved ones in the shooting of five workers at an awning maker outside Orlando, where a recently fired co-worker returned through a rear door and opened fire.
One of the victims, Kevin Clark, was “generous, giving, polite and he was an extremely upstanding person,” said his friend, Allan Saltman, who befriended Clark while taking pictures of youth league sports. “He was a warm and compassionate person.”
Authorities said John Robert Neumann Jr., 45, methodically shot his victims and then killed himself at the sound of an approaching siren on Monday.
Neumann was fired from Fiamma Inc. in April for undisclosed reasons. Clark began working there several months before that, after jobs in insurance and at an office supply company, Saltman said.
“The fact that some moron would go and do this stuff to somebody who has been working there for six months and then kill four other people. It makes no sense,” Saltman said.
The dead were identified as Robert Snyder, 69; Jeff Roberts, 57; Clark, 53; Kevin Lawson, 46; and Brenda Montanez-Crespo, 44.
Fiamma asked the public to keep all the victims in their thoughts and prayers. “The company is heartbroken following the unspeakable attack upon our loved ones and employees,” the company’s statement said.
The local Pop Warner league made a fund-raising appeal on Tuesday for Clark’s children, whose mother died nine years ago.
The Lake Howell Pop Warner league said Clark’s 14-year-old daughter was a cheerleader in the league, and his 18-year-old son played football in the league for several seasons. The fundraising appeal said Clark was a big supporter who “could often be found snapping pictures on the sideline during game days.”
Roberts’ friends described him as “a devoted husband, father and grandfather” on a fundraising website for his family. He was “taken way too soon by senseless violence in his workplace,” they wrote.
Lawson’s wife said her husband would give a person in need the shirt off his back.
“This senseless act has devastated me, my family, friends and people that never knew him,” Janet Lawson said in her own fundraising appeal. “Kevin was the love of my life and the best husband and father imaginable.”
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said Neumann was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1999 and did not have a concealed weapons permit.
Authorities had confronted Neumann once before at the factory, when he was accused of battering a co-worker in June 2014. But no charges were filed, and that co-worker was not among Monday’s victims, the sheriff said.
In a 2014 incident report, Neumann’s co-worker said Neumann punched him in the back of the head when he approached, knocking him to the ground. But the co-worker later changed his story, saying Neumann had chased him and then hit him on the back of the head.
The day after the confrontation, the co-worker sought a protective order against Neumann for stalking, but it was dismissed by a judge for insufficient evidence. He filed another petition a day later, this time for “repeat violence,” and a temporary injunction was granted, but never served: servers couldn’t find Neumann’s address.
At a court hearing 11 days later, Neumann’s co-worker asked for the petition to be dismissed. The court records don’t say why, and the co-worker didn’t return a call seeking comment on Tuesday.