Police: Employee at Ford Woodhaven Stamping Plant shot himself as officers approached him

By Dave Bartkowiak Jr., Shawn Ley - Reporter, Koco McAboy - Reporter

WOODHAVEN, Mich. - An employee entered Ford's Woodhaven Stamping Plant on Friday morning where he ultimately took his own life. 

Woodhaven Police Chief Robert Toth said his department received a 911 call just after 9 a.m. about a man with a gun at the plant. The plant was evacuated as police rushed to confront the gunman. He 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. 

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. He was brought to the union room, and 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."

Ford plant worker describes scare: 'Run! There's a guy with a gun!'

A plant employee, who goes by Leonard, said he believes the man who shot himself was a part-time employee. Leonard said he saw the man get sent home early. He described the tense moments when his supervisor told him to run out of the plant. 

"This morning I was on the line getting everything ready to go, and then one of the part-timers came in late. Instead of putting it the work, it looked to me like he was under the influence or something. They sent him home. They walked him out," said Leonard. "About an hour and 1/2 later my chairman comes running through. He tells me to drop everything I'm doing, 'Run as fast as you can, there's a shooter in the plant!' So I'm just saying, 'What the hell? What the hell is going on?' He said, 'Run Lenny, run!'"

Leonard was visibly shaken as he and his coworkers who were evacuated out of the building stood waiting to learn when they would be able to go home. 

"I'm very torn up right now. I'm scared. I'm shaking. My chest is hurting. I just want to be home with my family. That's the only thing that's going through my mind, being home with my family," he said. 

He said when he was running out of the plant he was telling everyone he saw to do the same. 

"I started running and I'm telling everybody when I'm running out the door, everyone behind me, 'Run! Run! There's a gunner. There's a guy with a gun.' Then about 15 minutes later I heard that it was the part-timer who got sent home early who was the shooter," he said. 

Leonard said he was thinking about his own family when he was rushing out of the plant. 

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

He's worked at the plant for two decades and never felt unsafe until now. 

"Everybody is hugging each other. Everyone is crying. Everyone can't understand how this could happen at our plant. I've been here 23 years and I have never felt unsafe in this plant. Now, I just don't know," he said. 

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