Athens factory reopens 11 days after fatal shooting

ATHENS - The Thomas & Betts facility in Athens reopened on Monday. The facility was temporarily closed as loved ones mourned the loss of two employees who were shot and killed by a co-worker.

A statement released by Thomas & Betts reads:

We are profoundly saddened by the loss of lives in the September 22 shooting at our Thomas and Betts facility in Athens, Tennessee. The authorities are conducting an investigation, and, at this point, we are deferring questions to them. We are cooperating closely with the authorities.

Our prayers and thoughts are with the victims’ families and our employees during this difficult time. We are providing all the support we can, including making grief counselors available to all of the facility’s employees.
It's been a difficult week for the employees at Thomas & Betts after the loss of three workers. Now they're trying to learn how to live with a new normal as they return to work.

Crime tape still lines the front entry at the factory more than a week after a deadly shooting.

The TBI said Ricky Swafford shot and killed two of his supervisors after an argument at work before turning the gun on himself.

MORE: Family, community members mourn factory shooting victims

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68-year-old Sandra Cooley and 44-year-old James Zotter were the two employees killed; both had been with the company for nearly 20 years. It's why only 11 days after the shooting employees are still grieving.

"Trying to get back to some kind of normalcy is probably the biggest step we've taken," Pat Joyce, a company spokesperson said.

Following the attack the company shut down and gave staff paid time off to grieve.

Monday employees returned to work, they say taking each day one at a time.

"Day one is going to be one step in front of the other," Joyce said.

The Athens plant employs nearly 350 people. Grief counselors were on-hand Monday.

Thomas & Betts say they will continue to pay for time off for those who need additional time.

In light of the recent attack, a spokesperson tells Channel 3 they will continue to update emergency response plans and provide training for their employees.

Many employees say it will still take time for them to heal, and for some returning to the place where it all happened can do just that.

(© 2016 WBIR)


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