Magazine article Newsweek

Massacre at the Office: A Depressed Programmer Goes on a Brutal Rampage

Magazine article Newsweek

Massacre at the Office: A Depressed Programmer Goes on a Brutal Rampage

Article excerpt

The last time Michael McDermott got a break was last March, when a former co-worker offered to help get him a job at Edgewater Technology, an Internet consulting firm. "He was extremely bright and extremely personable," that colleague told NEWSWEEK. "I recommended him to the company." It was a fatal mistake. For the 42-year-old McDermott, life was unraveling. Divorced in 1997 and deep in debt, he protested when Edgewater told him it had to garnish his wages for the IRS. The morning after Christmas, his Chrysler dealer apparently called him at work about repossessing his car. McDermott told them it was parked at Edgewater's Wakefield, Mass., office and that they could come get it. Then the unkempt bear of a man allegedly grabbed three high-powered guns he'd smuggled into work, strode down the hall and mercilessly killed seven co-workers in seven minutes. Police found McDermott sitting in the reception area. "I speak no German," was all he said as they wrestled him to the floor.

The rampage evoked images of other workplace sprees in San Francisco, Atlanta and Honolulu. Those tragedies heightened calls for stricter gun laws. But this time, the shootings may have actually exposed the limits of the law. Massachusetts, after all, is the toughest gun state in the nation, the only one with mandatory licensing and registration. And yet none of that stopped McDermott, who pleaded not guilty last week. At one point, he had been issued a license for a shotgun and a semiautomatic pistol; it wasn't yet clear where he got the other gun, an AK-47-style assault rifle that did most of the damage in the assault. …

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