SAN ANTONIO – A man who co-workers described as a "wonderful" person to work with walked into his real estate office and shot three women, killing two and critically wounding another.
Police say Ron G. Thomas (search) shot the victims multiple times Wednesday afternoon, then fled in his SUV before he turned the .357 Magnum on himself three hours later when officers approached near Temple, about 135 miles northeast of San Antonio (search).
"He walked in, approached these three employees, shot them, then ran," said San Antonio Police Sgt. Gabe Trevino.
Co-workers said Thomas, a former Army recruiter and successful salesman, was well-liked and respected at the Century 21 (search) office where he and the victims worked.
Thomas was the liaison between management and trainees at the office, said co-worker Norris Thomas, who is not related to the gunman. "They were all happy with him in that position," Norris Thomas said. "I cannot imagine what made him crack."
Killed in the attack were Anna Medcalf, 40, and Nancy Scharein, 61. Jane Swanson, 41, remained in critical condition early Thursday at University Hospital, said spokeswoman Rebekah Brothers.
Police had yet to discuss a possible motive, leaving the victims' families wondering what was behind the spree.
"Nobody has any reason, why, a clue," said Glenn Vaughn, a friend and spokesman for the Scharein family. "Nobody can think of anything, an off-the-wall comment, nothing. It caught everyone completely off guard."
Scharein had five children, four stepchildren and 13 grandchildren.
"(Thomas) was wonderful," real estate agent Herlinda Tucker said. "He was the kind of person if you had a problem, you went to him. It is a shock. If you knew him, it's not anything you could ever imagine."
Norris Thomas, who had left the office to show a home about 45 minutes before the shooting, said co-workers told him that Swanson was shot first. Then the gunman made his way down several hallways to the lobby before shooting Medcalf and Scharein in Medcalf's office.
Thomas then drove north on Interstate 35 in a black Ford Explorer. Police issued a bulletin in their search for the vehicle and were tipped by motorists as to Thomas' whereabouts.
Police said they were closing in when Thomas shot himself in the head.
The shooting occurred the same day a gunman opened fire inside New York City Council chambers, killing a councilman. A plainclothes police officer shot and killed the assailant.