Houston's NASA Shooting Has Tullahoma Ties - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Houston's NASA Shooting Has Tullahoma Ties

A hostage ordeal at the Johnson Space Center came to a tragic end Friday.

A gunman somehow got past NASA's security and after a four-hour standoff the man took his own life after killing one of the hostages. 

The gunman worked for a contractor based in middle Tennessee. 

When the Houston Police SWAT team, bomb squad, and NASA security rushed into the electronics laboratory building at Johnson Space Center, they found two dead engineers and a female hostage who had been tied up.

"She was able to remove the duct tape and called the emergency number here at Johnson Space Center.  Then, they alerted the administration," Chief Harold Hurtt with the Houston Police said.

Negotiators unsuccessfully tried to make contact with gunman Bill Phillips, a NASA contractor working for Jacobs Engineering.

A source said Phillips walked into an afternoon meeting and ordered everyone out, except for two co-workers.  He shot and killed engineer David Beverly before eventually turning the gun on himself.

"Up until recently, he's been a good employee. He'd been her for 12 or 13 years," Johnson Space Center Director Michael Coats said.

Police were still working on a motive but said there was some dispute between the two men. Unconfirmed reports indicated that Phillips was going to be fired Friday.

Johnson Space Center has tight security. Badges are required. No guns are allowed and vehicles are randomly checked. The tragedy in

Virginia didn't go unheeded in Houston and they were investigating how this happened.

"Earlier in the week, in fact, we had, as a result of the Virginia Tech shooting. We reviewed our own procedures here at the Johnson Space Center -- security and review procedures and so forth.  We never believed this could happen here to our family," Coats said.

Police have searched the shooters car and home for clues. Before the killings, he left a note on an eraser board with names and numbers of people to notify.

NewsChannel 5 learned the gunman was an employee of Jacobs Engineering, a national company.  The contract was actually managed by their subsidiary Jacobs Technology in Tullahoma, Tenn.  They are responsible for the contract and its employees.

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