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Gunman injures worker in attack on warehouse, Plant City police say

PLANT CITY — Like she has for the last six years, Nija Thomas was waiting Wednesday for her husband to come out of the Save-A-Lot warehouse where he works so they could have lunch.

A gunman police said once worked for a warehouse contractor changed their routine.

Around 12:30 p.m., the man drove his red pickup truck to an office at 4003 Amberjack Blvd., got out and started firing, Plant City police said.

Thomas saw it unfold.

"My heart stopped," she said. "You hear about things like that on TV but never expect to see them in person."

Police said Andrew Lee Brown, 53, of Lakeland was the gunman Thomas saw shooting at the office.

He kept shooting as he entered the building and shot Aaron Huey, 25, in the foot, police said.

Thomas called 911 and raced to the warehouse part of the building to warn her husband and others a gunman was coming.

Brown barricaded himself in the office and set fires before moving to the warehouse where he was arrested, police said.

A dozen employees who had been trapped in the building with the gunman made it out safely.

Huey was taken to South Florida Baptist Hospital. He works for a contractor with Save-A-Lot, police said.

Brown is a former worker for a transportation contractor working with Save-A-Lot, police said.

Brown was charged with attempted first-degree murder, eight counts of aggravated assault, three counts of first-degree arson, shooting into an occupied building, aggravated battery and using a firearm in the commission of a violent felony. He was held without bail at the Hillsborough County Jail.

Investigators questioned him to determine a motive but said Wednesday night it was unknown.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records do not show a criminal past in the state. Police said there was no signs of a previous relationship between Brown and Huey.

The episode cut short lunch plans for Thomas, 33, a nurse from Lakeland. Her husband took her home before Brown was arrested. She's not sure if she'll be able to go there again.

"I don't want him to go back to work there. But I know he has to," she said.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Gunman injures worker in attack on warehouse, Plant City police say 05/25/11 [Last modified: Thursday, May 26, 2011 12:40am]

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