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LOGAN TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — A suspect was shot and killed and two women were freed following a hostage situation at a UPS facility in Gloucester County on Monday. Authorities says a SWAT intervention ended the hostage situation when 39-year-old William Owens, of Sicklerville, was fatally shot.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office says law enforcement fired at Owens when he exited the building with the two hostages.
Authorities say the two women are safe following the standoff that lasted for three-and-a-half hours.
“Both of the hostages have also been taken from the scene. Apparently, there was no serious injuries to either one of these hostages at this point in time,” said Gloucester County Prosecutor Charles Fiore.
Sources tell CBS3 the suspect was holding his girlfriend hostage.
“There was apparently a relationship between a man and one of the women,” said Fiore.
Authorities responded to a report of an active shooter situation at the UPS facility in Logan Township around 8:30 a.m. as the SWAT team was activated to head to the warehouse on the 200 block of Birch Creek Road.
When officers arrived, they found a man barricaded himself in the building and taken two women hostage.
The suspect did fire his weapon early on, but no one was struck by the bullets.
The barricade situation lasted nearly three-and-a-half-hours, with hostage negotiators talking to the gunman over the phone. Around 11:55 a.m., multiple shots were fired. It’s unclear whether that was just SWAT or the suspect too, but moments later, officials said the gunman did not surrender, but police forcibly put an end to the threat and that’s when Owens was shot and killed.
“Through the intervention of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and other law enforcement, they were able to apprehend the suspect. Apparently he was shot,” said Fiore.
Thirty-two employees were inside the facility at the time of the incident were taken to a nearby Holiday Inn. School buses picked up the employees and brought them to the hotel.
“Everyone was screaming, everyone was shocked with what’s going on,” said Ashraf Hajomar. “People were falling on the floor.”
Hajomar is a truck driver who was just arriving to the UPS facility to pick up mail that needed to be delivered when he saw the gunman walk in and terrorize a woman.
“He grabbed his girlfriend, started punching her, and said, ‘I have nothing to lose,'” described Hajomar. “And he pulled a gun and shot into the air.”
People started to panic and scatter following the gunshots. Some started calling 911, but when authorities arrived, it only escalated tensions.
“Someone came in there with a gun. They all had to get out,” said John Williams, whose sister-in-law works at the UPS facility. “They had to duck down, get out the best way they could, and the employees, they sent them here to the Holiday Inn Express.”
Workers inside the UPS facility able to escape were put on two buses and escorted to the Holiday Inn Express for safety and so police could take their statements. At the same time, a career fair was happening inside the hotel.
“And all of a sudden, we see two busloads of people come in and cops with automatic rifles and I didn’t know what was going on,” said Kevin Fauntleroy of Swedesboro. “Then, eventually, I heard it was a hostage situation at one of the buildings over there.”
UPS workers say there is a security desk that checks people in, but they’re not sure what went wrong today. CBS3 asked a UPS spokesperson, but he declined to answer, saying police are still investigating.
UPS released the following statement regarding the incident:
“UPS greatly appreciates the work of the law enforcement personnel who responded to this morning’s active shooter situation at the company’s supply chain processing facilities in Logan Township, New Jersey. The incident is concluded and all of the employees are accounted for and being attended to by local officials. Support services for employees who work at the site will be provided as they recover from this unfortunate incident.”
Police have not yet released the identities of the gunman or the two women. Both women work at UPS, but it’s unclear if the man who worked there too.
UPS says they will supply services to employees who endured the traumatic event.
The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office is taking over the investigation.