3 dead in Fresno mass shooting

FRESNO, Calif.

The Fresno County Coroner's Office is reporting that three people are now dead as a result of a workplace shooting in Central Fresno. According the coroner, one person died at the scene, one person died at the hospital, and the suspect died on the way to the hospital.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the shooter, 42-year-old Lawrence Jones, went to work at Apple Valley Farms just before five Tuesday morning. Then around 8 a.m., he opened fire with a handgun. He then went outside and shot himself.

The frantic calls to Fresno Police dispatchers stared coming in around 8:20 a.m. Tuesday. At that time, suspect Lawrence Jones had been at work for over three hours before he pulled out a .357 derringer handgun -- shooting four of his co-workers.

Investigators plan to talk to as many as 30 witnesses who were inside the Apple Valley Farms processing plant at the time of the shooting.

Family members of the plant workers gathered around the area, frantically trying to reach loved ones by phone or text messages. One person who was at the plant when the gunman opened fire described a scene of fear and chaos.

"Something was wrong and I noticed everyone started getting down on the ground -- and everyone started screaming," said witness Beto Ordaz, "We heared 3 gunshots... I saw most of the guys running and screaming, and I saw a couple guys down."

Ordaz also said a number of men at the plant tried to stop the shooter. But, he put a gun to their head.

In a press conference, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, "We know that he has an extensive criminal history, that dates way back into the 90's. To our knowledge, he is a discharged parolee... We have secured his residents here in Fresno. We are looking to insure that there were no other victims."

The suspect, Lawrence Jones, had four prior felony strike convictions. His last was in 2002 when he led police on a chase in a stolen car. He injured a family of four in that incident.

At that time, Jones was diagnosed with "intermittent explosive disorder" and was sentenced to 10 years, 8 months in prison. During sentencing, the judge struck two of his prior strikes -- making him ineligible for a life sentence under the three strikes law.

In a press conference, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, "We know that he has an extensive criminal history, that dates way back into the 90's. To our knowledge, he is a discharged parolee... We have secured his residents here in Fresno. We are looking to insure that there were no other victims."

Blackstone and Abby is closed in both directions from just north of Olive to McKinley while police investigate.

Stay with Action News and ABC30.com for more on this developing story.

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