Mediocre job review.
Mediocre job review blamed for NASA shooting
By Jeff FranksSat Apr 21, 6:27 PM ET
A mediocre job review led a space engineer to buy a gun, then kill a co-worker he blamed for the appraisal and himself at NASA's Johnson Space Center, police said on Saturday.
The engineer, Bill Phillips, 60, left rambling notes saying his victim, David Beverly, called him stupid. He exacted his revenge by gunning him down in their NASA offices on Friday.
"You're the one that's going to get me fired," police quoted Phillips as saying before he shot Beverly, 62, in the leg and chest.
As police closed in, they said Phillips shot himself in the head.
The incident, coming on the heels of Monday's shooting rampage at Virginia Tech university that left 32 people dead, again raised the issue of U.S. gun violence and prompted NASA to review its security measures.
"We will be looking at yesterday's events to see if we can improve the security for our employees out here," JSC director Michael Coats said in a press conference.
His boss, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, said little could be done if someone is bent on revenge at any cost. "It is essentially impossible to stop such a person," he said.
Phillips, a contract employee at NASA for Pasadena, California-based Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., was provoked by a mid-March job review that criticized him for being late to meetings and other minor offenses, said Jacobs senior vice president Lon Miller.
But his overall score was "average" and Phillips was "considered a solid performer" until recently, Miller said.
Phillips, who worked at the space center since 1992, bought a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver on March 18 at a local gun shop and brought it into work in a duffel bag, officials said.
He and Beverly, a quality control engineer with offices nearby in JSC Building 44, went to lunch with another employee, who said Phillips had acted strangely.
At about 1:40 p.m., Phillips walked into Beverly's office, which he shared with employee Fran Crenshaw, with a gun in hand. Police said Beverly attempted to calm Phillips down, but after a few minutes Phillips shot him, then left the room.
Phillips returned, shot Beverly again as he tried to block the door, and took Crenshaw hostage.
He barricaded the office, bound Crenshaw with duct tape, then watched news coverage of the event on television before killing himself, police said.
In his lunch bag, investigators found a copy of his e-mailed performance review. It had been printed out March 18, the day he bought the gun.
The 1,600-acre Johnson Space Center is home to Mission Control and the NASA astronaut corps.
Friday's shooting follows the February arrest in Florida of astronaut Lisa Nowak on charges she assaulted a woman she viewed as her romantic rival for another astronaut.
Nowak, based at JSC in Houston, was fired from NASA and is awaiting trial in September.
Both incidents raised questions about whether NASA, which is trying to finish the International Space Station by 2010, is putting too much stress on its employees.
Griffin cited a recent survey that identified NASA as one of the best places to work in the government.
"It's hard to accept that we truly have such a high-stress environment if that's the case," he said.
Phillips lived by himself near the space center and was considered a loner by his neighbors. Police said his co-workers viewed him as "odd" and that he had recently become odder.
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