MORGAN HILL (AP) — A man who had just been fired from a Ford dealership in Northern California returned with a gun and shot and killed two managers who had dismissed him and then killed himself, police said Wednesday.
Steven Leet, 60, of San Jose was fired less than two hours before he took a gun from his car Wednesday evening, went into the Ford Store parts department office and shot to death his boss, Xavier Souto, 38, of San Jose, at point-blank range, police said.
Souto’s boss, Brian Light, 59, of San Jose, then tried to disarm Leet and was shot several times during the struggle, Police Chief David Swing said.
“Brian’s actions allowed people ... the precious seconds they needed to flee after hearing the first shot,” the chief said.
Leet, an eight-year employee whom co-workers described as quiet and who kept to himself, was fired at about 4:15 p.m. The shooting was reported shortly after 6 p.m.
Swing said Leet had left the building and sat in his car for about 20 minutes before returning to hang around his work station. Leet was finally escorted to a back office where he talked with Souto and Light before pulling the gun, police said.
The fired man refused to leave the premises, Doug MacGlashan, who was hired for the day to train employees on new software, told KPIX-TV.
“About 10, 15 minutes later, gunshots,” he said. “It’s just scarier than hell.”
After the killings, Leet went outside and killed himself, police said. Investigators found two guns at the scene.
Jordan Valdez, a service worker at the dealership, told the East Bay Times that he was standing outside the service department when the shooting happened.
“One of the service advisers had opened up the door to go back inside the shop,” Valdez said. “He turned around, looked at us and he said, ‘Run, there’s a shooter.’”
Valdez said he took cover at a nearby mushroom farm.
“Nobody really hated each other, which is why I’m really surprised this happened,” Valdez said. “I didn’t see anything like this coming.”
Souto was parts manager at the business, where he had worked since 2012. He is survived by a wife and two sons.
Light, the parts and service director, worked there since 2018.
On Wednesday, a SWAT team using a battering ram and flash grenades entered Leet’s home to search it but “found no other evidence of pre-planning or motive or anything else that would lead us to why this incident occurred,” Swing said. “It appears that is was the spontaneous action.”