Cement plant shooting survivor shares dramatic story

October 7, 2011 8:26:05 PM PDT
A survivor of Wednesday's Cupertino cement plant shooting, in which a co-worker killed three people, shared his dramatic story Friday.

Mike Ambrosio believes Shareef Allman targeted perceived enemies. Days earlier, the Teamsters union said it would no longer defend Allman for complaints of unsafe driving. Ambrosio is the shop steward.

Ambrosio and his co-workers sat stunned and just froze as Allman shot them one at a time, from one end of a table to the other.

"It was quick, it wasn't just a bullet, it was bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam," Ambrosio said.

Allman was shooting a handgun.

"He started from the end of the table and just started shooting down," Ambrosio said. "I was the last one at the table, so I was watching everything he was doing. I don't know when I got shot, but I had to be facing him because the bullet came in and it came out the back."

Ambrosio was shot through the upper right arm. He put his wounded arm over his head and played dead as he fell to the floor. He believes that move saved his life because Allman looked under the table to check if Ambrosio was dead.

"He walked over to the end of the table and I closed my eyes and stopped breathing," Ambrosio said. "I just kept praying inside. I closed my eyes and the next thing I heard was him running out."

Ambrosio then was able to call for help from an adjacent room, telling 911 dispatchers what had happened. He said Allman appeared to pick his targets, yelling an obscene phrase as he shot each victim.

Ambrosio calls his survival the start of a second life. The bullet that went through his arm missed bone and he has not suffered any loss of feeling or movement.

All employees of the quarry attended a private company meeting Friday morning at Cupertino's town hall. Many had not seen each other since before the shooting.

"When you are looking at second, third or even fourth generation workers, it is a very tightly knit group and we just felt that it was very important, in addition to giving them information updates, it was a chance for them to get together while the plant is still not operating and have a chance to see their colleagues and talk," Lehigh Cement Vice President Thomas Chizmadia said.

They are being offered grief counseling to deal with the situation.

"No one saw this coming, it was a shock for everybody and pure tragedy," Chizmadia said.

But at least one other person says there were signs that something was wrong with Allman. He showed off his new AK-47 assault rifle over the weekend to a friend in Sacamento and even said what he planned to do with it.

"I said, 'Man, what you doing to do with that?' He was like, 'Man these (people) at my job keep messing with me,'" Sacramento resident Brandon Powell said.

Allman was shot and killed Thursday morning in a driveway on Lorne Way in Sunnyvale after an extensive manhunt.

"All three of our deputies that were present at the scene fired shots and the subject was pronounced dead at the scene," said Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith.

Local 287 has set up a trust fund for the Cupertino quarry victims and their families at United Labor Bank (2550 N. First Street, San Jose, CA 95131-1038) under the name Teamsters Local 287/Lehigh Hanson Victims Fund.

Anyone wanting to donate can send donations to any United Labor Bank or to Teamsters Local 287, 1452 N. Fourth Street, San Jose, CA 95112.


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