State News

Winston-Salem municipal building shooter was city employee of 12 years

Posted December 20, 2019 11:57 a.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2019 8:19 p.m. EST

— Two people were killed and two more wounded Friday morning in a shooting at the Joycelyn V. Johnson Municipal Services Center in Winston-Salem.

The shooter has been identified as 61-year-old Steven Haizlip, a city employee of 12 years.

Winston-Salem Police Chief Catrina Thompson called the shooting a workplace violence incident, saying it appears the gunman's target was his 48-year-old co-worker Terry Lee Cobb Jr.

Cobb's body was discovered during a police sweep of the building. Haizlip was killed during a gunfight with officers.

Sgt. Cameron Stewart Sloan was shot twice during the encounter. He was taken to a nearby hospital for surgery and was recovering Friday afternoon.

One other person, whose identity hasn't been released, was injured during the incident.

Emotional city employees share stories of survival

Sanitation worker Dwight Black, 66, was running five minutes late when he parked his car at the municipal building. He said he was about to swipe his card to enter when people ran past him.

"They're shooting. Run!" Black said people leaving the building called out. “Fight or flight. I just followed suit.”

“I didn't know what was happening, so I just kind of got out of the way until I could ascertain what was going on,” he added.

Black said he ran back to his car, and other people did the same and drove off. He said he just stood back and watched until police arrived.

Herbert Martinez told local news outlets a co-worker at the site ran out and told him someone was shooting inside. Martinez said he stayed in his truck and heard gunshots. He and the co-worker ran and hid in a ditch, where they heard more gunshots.

Another employee said he heard gunshots while in the break room, and he took cover behind a trash can.

Black said he was “kind of numb” after the shooting. “Everybody was devastated," he said. “Tough day."

Numerous police cars were on the scene in the late morning. Workers in the reflective gear worn by city sanitation workers were seen standing in a parking lot talking to each other. The scene outside the building appeared calm.

Timeline of the shooting

At 6:37 a.m. police were dispatched to the Joycelyn V. Johnson Municipal Services Center. The initial dispatch was to a shooting call.

The first officer arrived at 6:41 a.m., four minutes later. Officers said they heard shots being fired on the west side, and they moved directly towards threat, confronting the shooter.

The suspect fired multiple rounds at officers, and multiple rounds were returned.

Thompson said Haizlip was killed during the exchange, stopping him from hurting any other city employee.

According to officials there was a "long standing dislike" between Haizlip and Cobb. They said an incident occurred Thursday between the pair, which appears to be the catalyst for the shooting. Police say they found two handguns.

Raleigh sends message: We stand with you

The City of Winston-Salem tweeted a statement released by Mayor Allen Joines, expressing sadness at the tragic event. The City of Raleigh retweeted the mayor's words, sharing its own message of support.

Because of the heightened levels of workplace shootings nationwide, Thompson said Winston-Salem has prepared employees for such incidents.

Winston-Salem's website offers a document explaining what employees should do in case of an active shooter situation. The site even has a video describing how to survive this kind of emergency.

"We are all experiencing unacceptable levels of gun violence," said Thompson.

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