“You don’t know how many times I’ve thought, ‘it won’t happen here,’” said Ray Ginnard of Hillsboro, who is a fabrication supervisor at Bunn-o-Matic in Springfield, where an employee shot and killed three fellow employees on Friday morning, June 26.
Ginnard, who has been with the company for the past five years, said the day started out at 7 a.m. as a typical Friday for employees. Many were scheduled to clock out at 11 for half a vacation day.
“Most people were punched out and were getting ready to leave,” Ginnard said.
But at 11:02 a.m., he heard a large bang and he thought maybe someone knocked over a pallet. He then heard three more bangs, and he knew they were shots fired.
Ginnard said he ran toward the back door, gathering 15 employees with him to a secure location, where they hunkered down until they were given the “all clear.”
As the events transpired, Ginnard said the shooter, who is being identified as Michael L. Collins, allegedly pulled a gun and shot 61-year-old William “Bill” Gibbons of Springfield in the back at his work station.
He then turned and shot 25-year-old Christopher Aumiller of Springfield, who witnessed the shooting. As Collins fled the building, he shot 54-year-old Marsha Strumpher of Springfield, who would later die in the hospital.
The suspect was found dead in his vehicle later in the day near Jacksonville.
“I knew all these people,” Ginnard said. “I was their supervisor at one time or another. And all of them were my friends. They did not deserve this.”
There were 200 employees on site at the time of the shooting.
Ginnard added that as a supervisor he has been through active shooter training twice in the past four months, once sponsored by the company.
“Everything they say is exactly true,” he said. “I knew the shooter. He was a very good employee, very quiet, someone you would never expect. But that’s what you always hear when something like this happens. No conflict. No reason.”
Ginnard attended a company meeting on Monday, though the company was not in operation. They heard from owner Hy Bunn, who encouraged employees to remember they are a family and will get through it together. The company is also providing counseling both on site and off for those who need it.
“I do wonder what more I could have done if I had gone in the other direction,” Ginnard said. “Maybe I could have stopped the shooting in the parking lot, or maybe it would have been me that got shot. I did my best, and I got 15 people out of the building. They’re alive today because of cool thoughts and awareness.”
Ginnard added that the incident shows something like this can happen anywhere, whether at work or not. He encourages people to always be aware of their surroundings and know where the exits are.
He had high praise for Springfield first responders, who were on site in two minutes from the call, as well as the Illinois State Police and FBI. One of his jobs the day of the shooting was to work with police, helping to identify all the employees in the facility and make sure they were giving correct information to law enforcement.
Two days after the shooting, Ginnard was grateful to be out on his fishing boat with his son, Eric.
“All I can say is that everyone has priorities in life, family, God,” Ginnard said. “Make sure you appreciate everyone in your life. Hug your family. Hug your kids because you never know what tomorrow will bring.”