ORLANDO, Fla. – The engineer accused of fatally shooting one employee and wounding five others at the firm where he once worked is "very mentally ill" and crumbled under the stress of his divorce, bankruptcy and unemployment, his attorney said Saturday.
Jason Rodriguez, 40, was ordered held without bail at the Orange County Jail, where he is under suicide watch after Friday's shooting. His mother, Ana Rodriguez, also apologized Saturday, telling reporters she is "so sorry for everything that has happened."
"Sorry for the families involved. I'm really very sorry, it is very hurtful," she said.
Public defender Bob Wesley asked the judge at a brief court appearance Saturday that police and prosecutors have no contact with Rodriguez without his permission.
Wesley told reporters that Rodriguez "is a very, very mentally ill person" who lost his emotional stability because of deep financial problems.
"This guy is a compilation of the front page of the entire year — unemployment, foreclosure, bankruptcy, divorce — all of the stresses," Wesley said. "He has been declining in mental health. There is no logic whatsoever, which points to a mental health case. It looks like a classic case of stress overload."
Employees at Reynolds, Smith and Hills recognized their former co-worker when he drew a handgun from a holster under his shirt, police said, and killed Otis Beckford, 26, next to a receptionist's desk in an office at a downtown Orlando tower. He then walked into the office and unloaded several more rounds, wounding five other employees at the company he had been fired from two years ago.
Orlando police identified the five wounded victims Saturday as Gregory Hornbeck, 39; Ferrell Hickson, 40; Guy Lugenbeel, 62; Edward Severino; 34; and Keyondra Harrison; 27. All were in stable condition at Orlando hospitals, and all were expected to survive.
Rodriguez was taken into custody several hours after the shooting. He has been charged with first-degree murder.
Police said Rodriguez told detectives he blamed the firm for recent trouble he had receiving unemployment benefits. As officers led him handcuffed into a police station Friday, a reporter asked him why he had attacked his former colleagues.
"Because they left me to rot," said Rodriguez, who recently told a bankruptcy judge he was making less than $30,000 a year at a Subway sandwich shop and had debts of nearly $90,000. He is the divorced father of a young son.
All the victims worked at Reynolds, Smith and Hills, where Rodriguez was an entry-level engineer for 11 months before he was fired in June 2007, the company said.
The Legion Place building, where the shooting occurred, remained cordoned off Saturday with police tape. A few officers and crime scene investigators blocked the entrance to the parking garage. It was far different from the chaos that unfolded a day earlier, when stunned workers streamed out.
Some workers returned to the building to get their cars. Others came back to get purses, wallets and other belongings they left behind in a scramble to escape the shooting spree. Only workers with identification were being allowed in the building and had to be escorted by an officer. They were not allowed to stay and work.
Courtney Moore, who works as a paralegal on the 17th floor, returned to get her car. She said she shared elevators frequently with Beckford and always saw him in the building's cafeteria and recalled an elevator ride they shared about a month ago when she had a bad day.
"I was so rude to him. I feel so bad now," Moore said. "I can't remember exactly what I told him, but it wasn't nice. He was always so polite and friendly. I told him I was sorry. Then he said, 'It's OK. Have a great day."'
Hours after the shootings, police tracked Rodriguez to his mother's home and ordered him to come out. He surrendered peacefully, apologizing as officers handcuffed him, police said.
"I'm just going through a tough time right now. I'm sorry," officers quoted him as saying.
Rodriguez worked on drawings in the firm's transportation group before he was fired. The company did not hear from him again.
"There was nothing to indicate any hard feelings," said Ken Jacobson, the firm's general legal counsel and chief financial officer.
Rodriguez told detectives the company had fired him without cause and had made him look incompetent. He told them he was unemployed for a year and a half before getting a job at a Subway, where worked until recently.
He told them the shop couldn't give him enough hours, and he later filed for unemployment. He expected to get a check recently but when it didn't arrive he blamed Reynolds, Smith and Hills, thinking it was harming his efforts to qualify, police said.
His ex-wife's mother, America Holloway, told The Associated Press that Rodriguez and her daughter, Neshby, were married for about 6 1/2 years before divorcing several years ago. They have an 8-year-old son who lives with Neshby in Kissimmee, about a half-hour away.
Holloway said the couple lived with her in Orlando for several years and that Rodriguez abused her daughter and once threw all her clothes into the street.
After the divorce, Rodriguez seldom saw his son, but he called last week while the child was at Holloway's house and the boy asked his father why he did not come over, too.
"He said, 'Because I don't have any money. I don't have a job. I don't have anything to eat. When things get better, I'll come see you,"' Holloway said Rodriguez told his son.