A dispute between two employees at the Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia plant in West Point has left one shot in the leg and the suspected gunman facing assault charges, an official said Tuesday.
The suspect was identified as Gabriel Raines, 38, of Newnan, Ga., said Sgt. Stewart Smith, a public information officer for the Troup County Sheriff’s Office. He was taken into custody without incident at the scene of the 2:43 p.m. shooting and charged with one count each of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He is held in the Troup County Jail.
The 28-year-old victim sustained a gunshot wound to his lower leg in the shooting, said West Point Police Chief Tony Bailey, whose department was the first to respond to shots fired at the plant. The man was air lifted to Midtown Medical Center in Columbus for treatment and was in stable condition before going into surgery.
During a 7:30 p.m. news conference at the sheriff’s office, Bailey said he requested help from the Troup County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia State Patrol due to the size of the facility. While en route to the shooting, Bailey said officers were told there was one victim and the gunman was still on the scene.
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“Immediately upon arrival, we saw an individual that was kind of detained by the security personnel,” the chief said. “He wasn’t in cuffs but they were standing around him and we were instructed that was our potential suspect.”
Raines was immediately taken into custody and officers also seized a .40-caliber pistol.
To secure the plant, all second shift employees were sent home after the shooting. Officers worked with teams of troopers and sheriff’s deputies to make a security sweep of the plant, looking for other possible victims. About 50 law enforcement personnel took part in the sweep in a 750,000-square-foot assembly plant.
The third shift was expected to resume on schedule late Tuesday.
Bailey said the suspect may face more charges in connection with the shooting. The gun was inside the plant but Bailey couldn’t state how it entered the plant. “I can’t comment on Kia security,” he said. “The gun was absolutely inside the facility.”
Police haven’t determined what sparked the shooting but believe it was an isolated incident.
“Right now, we don’t know,” Bailey said. “It seems like an isolated incident between two employees. It’s not necessarily an employee that is irate with Kia.”
This is the second serious incident at the plant since Oct. 7, 2014, when a 57-year-old employee was killed after heavy materials fell on him. The death was investigated by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
Located near the Georgia-Alabama line off Interstate 85, the 2.4 million-square-foot factory opened in November 2009 and employs about 3,000 workers. The facility started with production of the Kia Sorrento crossover utility vehicle and added the Hyundai Santa Fe sport utility before producing the Kia Optima sedan in 2011.A shooting at the Kia plant in West Point, Ga., has left one man injured and a suspect taken into custody, an official said.