(BR) Hostage-taker Angry About Losing Mill Job

JAY, Maine– When a man with a shotgun burst into a building at Verso Paper’s Androscoggin Mill on Wednesday morning, employees tried to disarm him before he pulled out a handgun and threatened them, according to a police affidavit.

Francis G. Smith III

Francis Smith III, 50, of Norridgewock held the workers at bay and locked himself in an office with the mill manager, starting a nine-hour standoff that ended when Smith surrendered to Maine State Police.

Smith surrendered about 6:30 p.m., after freeing the mill manager unharmed earlier in the day, police said. Police incorrectly reported his name and age Wednesday night.

The mill manager, Marc Connor, 43, was freed after Smith spoke by telephone for several hours with state police negotiators, who were at the scene along with a state police tactical team, police said.

Smith was taken Wednesday night to the Franklin County Detention Center in Farmington and held on $10,000 cash bail. He faces charges of kidnapping and terrorizing. His initial court appearance is set for 1 p.m. Friday in Farmington District Court.

Jay police Detective Richard Caton IV said in an affidavit that he overheard Smith telling the mill manager that he was angry about losing his job at the mill.

Smith also was heard saying he was upset about how other mill workers were treated, Caton wrote in his affidavit supporting Smith’s arrest.

Employees continued to work throughout Wednesday in other parts of the mill, which are isolated from the administrative building, Budrick said.

Budrick said Thursday that operations at the mill continued to run, with grief counselors at the site to meet with any employees who needed them.

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This blog and its accompanying Twitter account have been established as social media learning tools for the Internal Communications and Employee Engagement class at Columbia College Chicago. Through this blog, we will share our observations about current events, change management and employee communications theory, and the application of social media in shaping employee engagement.
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