Muslim Safeway employee kills two wounds seven in "sudden Jihad syndrome" shooting rampage
Brother of shooter shot in 'unrelated incident' father Khalid Muhammed says shootings "a nightmare" for the family
June 27, 2006 update: Total bafflement from every Ford family member interviewed, except for this revealing piece of information from Ford's younger sister Khali, who said Michael was upset because people were making fun of his religion at work. "I don't know what happened to him yesterday. It was like everything changed. He told me that Allah was going to make a choice and it was going to be good and told me people at his job was making fun of his religion and he didn't respect that." In a contrasting account, co-worker Debbie Richmeier, 45, dismissed any suggestion that the employees made fun of Ford's religion. "The group of people he shot, we did not know Michael Ford was any [certain religion]. Nobody knew he had switched to Muslim. Nobody would have cared." Richmeier's version suggests that Ford's motives came from within. Another news report indicates that both the police and Safeway are downplaying the stories about Ford being taunted and harassed at work because of being a Muslim. http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/403
Mom: 'I have no answers for them' Family at a loss for what might have set off Michael Ford Dennis Schroeder
Felecia Ford, the mother of Michael Ford, hugs her daughter, Beyonca Ellis, as she expresses her condolences Monday for the people shot Sunday at the Safeway warehouse in Denver. Police said Michael Ford shot five people before officers killed him. His family and investigators said they are stumped as to what might have provoked the rampage. http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_4804272,00.html By David Montero, Rocky Mountain News
"I have no answers for them," Ford said. "I'm still trying to find answers. May God be with them because that's the only way I'm going to get through it."
The 46-year-old stood in the street outside the working-class Montbello neighborhood and sobbed. She could scarcely believe it was her son, Michael J. Ford, who entered a Safeway warehouse Sunday afternoon and fired 16 rounds - six of which were aimed at Denver SWAT team members. Ford was shot and killed by SWAT officers Ryan Grothe and James Sewald.
The Ford family had been gathering at the home of Ford's father, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, all day, trying to understand what might have set off the 6-foot-6 Ford. The 60-year-old patriarch only offered an agitated "I'm tired" before retreating into the house.
Explanation was futile for his older brother, Bobby Ford, as well.
"He must've held every piece of rage in his life and stuck it in a place and just let it out," he said. "It probably wasn't even a big deal, but the cap busted off."
Ford said he never remembered his brother being angry growing up or disliking his job unloading trucks at the warehouse. In fact, he said the only time he complained was Memorial Day weekend, when there was a big shipment of corn to be unloaded.
"He said the corn was heavy," Ford, 30, said. "But that was it. He loved that job."
No hint anything was wrong
Shirtless, drinking vodka and juice while waving his arms to emphasize important points, the eldest brother said he lived with the 22-year-old in a nearby apartment for a few months and never had a hint that anything was wrong. He said he never saw any guns in the apartment, either - "Something I would've been aware of, being an ex-gang member and all."
His mother said the shooting was entirely out of character because Ford seemed to be on what she believed was the right track. He had a full-time job with benefits, a car, an apartment, no children and was in the market to buy a house. She said he'd even gone looking for a place during the past couple of weekends.
None of it made sense, she said. His sister, 19-year-old Beyonca Ellis, said Ford was popular with girls, but Felecia Ford said her son never felt any were good enough to bring home to her.
That is, until the most recent girlfriend.
Family members said he had been dating a girl for a few months, and the relationship was serious enough that his mother had planned to meet her in the coming weeks. Now she thinks the first time they'll meet will be at her son's funeral.
"I don't know if we'll bond," she said. "But I'd like to meet someone who meant something to Michael."
Family members said Ford didn't have a criminal record. He received a traffic ticket in April 2005 for having altered license plates, to which he pleaded guilty. In 2002, Denver court records indicate he was arrested on a "wrongs to minors" charge, which generally means endangering the life or health of a minor, but the disposition was unavailable Monday.
His mother said he was a decent student at Montbello High School but never graduated. She said he took the divorce between herself and Muhammad hard while he was still a student there and eventually settled for earning his GED.
Family members said Ford didn't appear to be especially religious, despite some claims made in the media that co-workers had made fun of his Muslim faith. Bobby Ford said he'd never even seen his brother pray, and another brother said he knew he read the Quran, but it didn't appear to be a huge part of his life.
His mother said he was raised Baptist, and she knew of his interest in being Muslim. She knew little more than, that, though. The father told CBS he didn't practice Islam diligently.
Troubling signs missed?
His uncle, Ralph Ford, said his nephew got the Safeway job in February 2005 after working part time at UPS for several months. The 53-year-old, who works as a drug and alcohol counselor, said he feared he might've missed some troubling signs from his nephew.
"I think everybody missed it because he was so quiet," Ralph Ford said, wiping his eyes from beneath a pair of narrow sunglasses. "I ask myself, 'Did he want to talk to me? Did I miss it?' "
He looked around the front yard as if an answer might appear. Outside, a few cousins sat on wooden fences and some young children ran between a van and an SUV parked in the driveway. A young girl arrived with a bouquet of roses for the family and disappeared quickly behind a screen door.
Collecting himself, Ralph Ford said he wanted to pass on his condolences to the families of those who were shot by his nephew. But even as he spoke, his mind was trying to sort out the image of a kid he used to play basketball with and that of a killer.
"We played to 21 - best of three," he said. "I had the title and I would give him title shots. As he grew up - and he was a big kid - he got closer to getting the title."
Ralph Ford excused himself to do a television interview. Later in the afternoon, when Ford's mother arrived with another brother, Sean Ford, family members hugged in the street. A childhood friend, Ernest Colbert, had heard about the shooting but didn't realize it was Ford who had done it until Bobby Ford told him.
Colbert's mouth hung open and he began to walk in circles, his hands on top of his head.
"That was Michael?" he asked.
"Yeah, that was my brother, dog," Bobby Ford said. "He's in the morgue."
Sean Ford said he was still in shock. He said he had borrowed $20 from Michael last week for gas and was going to pay him back later this week. Sean Ford, 25, said he had a bond with his brother because he had a similar job unloading trucks at King Soopers. Felecia Ford said she worked hard to keep her sons from getting into trouble and was proud Sean and Michael had full-time jobs.
She joked she had her sons involved in almost everything growing up.
"Baseball, football, basketball, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts," she said. "I kept them busy so there was no time for trouble."
"He was good up until 3:12 p.m. yesterday," Bobby Ford said.
RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-5236
A Denver Police officer takes cover Sunday outside a Safeway distribution center.
Police Try to Determine Gunman's Motive
By JON SARCHE
DENVER -- Police on Monday were interviewing relatives of an employee at a Safeway Inc. warehouse to try to determine why he opened fire on co-workers and police before he was shot and killed.
Authorities said there was no indication that 22-year-old Michael J. Ford had any help in carrying out Sunday's attack. Besides Ford, one worker was killed and four employees and a SWAT team member were wounded.
Police Chief Gerry Whitman said investigators had talked with some members of Ford's family but had not been able to determine a motive.
He declined to comment on a television report that Ford, a Muslim, had been teased about his religion at work, saying he had not known Ford's religion.
Safeway spokesman Jeff Stroh said the company had not received any harassment or other complaints involving Ford. The company has a "zero-tolerance" policy on harassment, he said.
Safeway officials said Ford's shift in the sprawling warehouse in northeast Denver had just begun when he started firing at other employees and trying to set fires in the building.
Whitman said 911 calls from employees in the warehouse helped SWAT teams pinpoint Ford's location. He said Ford, armed with a long-barreled handgun, "ambushed" SWAT officer Derick Dominguez, then fired at other officers who responded to the sound of the shot.
Those officers immediately returned fire, killing Ford.
"It was a gun battle that he started," Whitman said.
Whitman said Ford's fire-starting attempts were unsuccessful but generated smoke that made the officers' work more difficult.
Dominguez was in serious condition Monday. One employee remained in critical condition; one was in serious condition and another was fair. The fifth worker had been released.
Grief counselors were scheduled to be available for the roughly 150 people who were working at the warehouse when the shooting broke out, and for any other employees who sought mental health help.
Ford had worked at the warehouse for more than a year, Stroh said.
denver & the west
MIM: The police and the family of a rampaging shooter whose other son was shot in a drive by shooting said to be 'unrelated' all
Father Of Alleged Safeway Shooter Speaks About His Son
POSTED: 5:29 pm MDT June 28, 2006 UPDATED: 7:06 pm MDT June 28, 2006 DENVER -- The father of a man who was shot and killed inside a Safeway distribution center over the weekend, spoke about his son Wednesday. Police said Michael Ford went on a shooting rampage inside a Safeway distribution center, killing one of his fellow employees and injuring several others, before being shot and killed by police. Khalid Muhammad, Michael Ford's father, said Ford never had any interest in guns. Muhammad said over the years he had owned several guns, but his 22-year-old son never cared about weapons, drugs or alcohol. Muhammad also said he didn't know where the gun came from. "That is a mystery to me. I really would like to know. Because he has shown no interest in guns," said Muhammad. Muhammad said Ford had broken up with his girlfriend shortly before the shootout and he hopes to get some answers to his questions from her. "Nobody knows us men like our girlfriends and wives. And I think she does have some answers," said Muhammad. "She called me this morning. I had never met her. She called and said, 'I've been dating Michael for a few months and I'd like to talk to you.'" Muhammad had worked at the Safeway distribution center for nearly 30 years. Contrary to previous reports, he said there was not a promotion available at the warehouse, and Ford had never applied for a new position. "Safeway is a good company. And I apologize to Safeway," said Muhammad. "I was glad he was working in a place that I grew up in and matured." Previous Stories:
A TOUCH OF COMFORT / Felecia Ford, left, the mother of Michael Ford, comforts Ford's girlfriend, Renee Orr, as they meet at Ford's father's home in Aurora on Wednesday afternoon. The pair said they were shocked by Michael Ford's shooting rampage last Sunday at a Safeway warehouse in east Denver where he killed an employee and wounded five people - including a Denver Police SWAT officer - before being killed by police.
By Tillie Fong, Rocky Mountain News