Workers at Ford Woodhaven Stamping Plant describe tense moments when employee fired shot

21-year-old employee shot self at plant

WOODHAVEN, Mich. - The Ford Woodhaven Stamping Plant was evacuated Friday morning after an active shooter situation was reported.

Employees were informed of the situation just after 9 a.m. 

"The union told everyone to get out, active shooter situation, so they texted everyone and everyone got out," employee Ryan Johnson said.

One employee, Leonard, said the only thing on his mind when he heard about the situation was that he didn't want to die.

"I didn't want to die, it's not my time. I got grandkids and everything. I didn't want to die," he said.

Leonard said his crew leader told him there was a shooter in the plant, and he started telling everyone to run.

Woodhaven Police Chief Robert Toth said his department received a 911 call about a man with a gun at the plant. 

"If it was a drill they would have announced [it], so you knew it wasn't a drill and you had to go," employee Richard Vignola said.

The gunman turned the gun on himself when officers approached him. 

"One subject armed with a handgun took his own life inside the complex at the Ford Stamping Plant," Toth said. "Despite earlier reports, no officers were involved in the shooting. No other people were injured."

The plant along West Road near I-75 was closed for the rest of Friday, and it's unclear if Ford will decide to keep it shuttered through the weekend while police continue to investigate the incident. 

Jacoby Hennings

Toth said the employee, identified as 21-year-old Jacoby Hennings, of Harper Woods, had been working at the plant part-time since March. It was a temporary position, police said. 

"(My) officers did encounter him," Toth said. "However, there was no gunfire exchanged between our officers and the subject at all."

UAW-Ford said he was a member of the union and released this statement:                     

"This morning, there was an unfortunate incident at the Woodhaven Stamping Plant in Woodhaven, Michigan that resulted in one of our members taking their own life with a firearm. Local police are investigating the incident and ensuring the safety of all employees and we have international representatives from the essp department on site to provide support and counseling."

A man shot and killed himself inside the Woodhaven Ford Stamping Plant on Oct. 20, 2017. (WDIV)

A man shot and killed himself inside the Woodhaven Ford Stamping Plant on Oct. 20, 2017. (WDIV)

Union chairman's family says man was upset for being written up

The union chairman's family told Local 4 and ClickOnDetroit the man was angry about being written up for being late multiple times. The chairman and others tried to talk him down as he was waving around his gun. However, Toth said he wasn't aware of the man's motive or if other employees tried to calm him down. He said his officers arrived and tried to identify the gunman. 

"When they did approach him and tried to identify him that's when the subject took the handgun and took his own life," the chief said. 

Toth's officers faced an obstacle in the plant -- an unattended backpack. This forced them to alert the Michigan State Police bomb squad. 

"When officers first arrived they did call for the MSP bomb unit. The reason being is that there was an unattended backpack in an area leading up to where the shooting actually occurred and in order for us to get our personnel in safely they got the state police bomb team in to dispose of the package," Toth said. 

The backpack did not belong to the gunman. 

Toth said all other plant employees have been accounted for and no other injuries were reported. 

Ford Motor Company released this statement: 

"Our deepest condolences go out to the family, friends and co-workers of the Woodhaven Stamping Plant employee who lost his life at the plant today. Grief counselors are on site and production is cancelled for the remainder of the day."

Sign up for ClickOnDetroit breaking news alerts and email newsletters

Copyright 2017 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.