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Was driver stress behind Liquitermals shooting death?

James Menzies
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James Menzies

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – At least one former owner/operator isn’t surprised when violence erupts in the trucking industry. He’s just surprised it doesn’t happen more often.

Dave Marson, a past board member of the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and former president of OBAC, sold his truck and got out of the business this spring.

He says he’s seen first-hand the stress and anxiety the trucking industry can create and he says it was only a matter of time before something like this happened.

Marson’s reaction came after a former driver for Mississauga-based carrier Liquiterminals allegedly walked into the company’s office May 7 and shot general manager Mike O’Rourke to death.

“It’s a real sad case but I think there are quite a few time bombs out there that are ready to explode,” said Marson, who is still fighting to recover money he claims he’s owed by former employers. “I’m surprised something that drastic hasn’t taken place a lot sooner.”

First degree murder charge

Jean Delagrave, 49, from Ottawa, has been charged with the first degree murder of O’Rourke and with the attempted murder of company dispatchers Jurgen Zimmerman and Michael Lloyd Bunney, currently recovering in hospital.

A Toronto Star news report indicated the shooting may have been linked to a dispute over money owed to the driver by the carrier.

But officials for the liquid bulk hauler, which owns about 50 power units and employs about that many drivers, primarily independent contractors, say no money was owed to the driver, who quit without notice over a year ago.

In fact, the driver was himself employed by an owner/operator with several trucks, who was contracted to Liquiterminals.

Any money owing to the driver would have been owed by the subcontractor who employed him.

Company officials would not name the subcontractor.

According to sources inside Liquiterminals, none of the victims had significant dealings with Delagrave when he drove for the company. Delagrave was a “loner,” said the source, and never caused any trouble.

In fact, he probably barely knew the victims.

At press time, Delagrave was under suicide watch in a jail cell.

He was slated to appear in Brampton court May 17.

According to sources inside the company, the shooting occurred at approximately 11 a.m. May 7, when Delagrave allegedly walked into the Liquiterminals office at 2650 Windsor Drive, just east of Winston Churchill Blvd., and went directly upstairs to an office at the back of the building where he fired three shots, striking the three men.

Eight people were in the building when the incident occurred, but very few actually saw the shooter enter the building because he went directly upstairs through a back entrance.

O’Rourke, from Newmarket, reportedly died of gunshot wounds at the scene.

“Red” Zimmerman, in his mid-50s was shot in the chest but recovered in hospital.

Bunney had emergency surgery at Mississauga’s Trillium Health Centre to repair a bullet wound in his colon.

Delagrave reportedly left the building immediately after the shooting, and was already walking along Royal Windsor Dr. and into the Clarkson community policing station nearby when police arrived at the scene.

Delagrave turned himself in about 20 minutes after the shooting occurred, according to the Toronto Star report.

A handgun which police believe may have been used in the shootings was located shortly thereafter.The Liquiterminals office reopened May 9, but closed for a half-day for O’Rourke’s funeral on May 12. O’Rourke, who was 48-years old, is survived by his wife Anna, his daughter Lindsay, 20, and his son McKenzie, 12.

Memorial donations can be made to the Shriners Children’s Hospital. Friends are also invited to sign an online book of condolences at www.taylorfuneralhomenewmarket.com

O’Rourke to be missed

O’Rourke will be sorely missed by his co-workers, said Larry Greenwood, who’s been with the company for 10 years.

“For sure he’ll be missed. He was a friend,” said Greenwood on the Tuesday following the shooting. “I came to work here 10 years ago and the company’s expanded 1,400 per cent since then.We became very good friends. Our families even vacationed together every year. We used to go south together. Michael was a popular guy with everybody. And he had very little to do with the driver.”

At press time, counseling was being offered on-site to company employees to help them recover from the traumatic incident, said company officials.

Daytime security is being stepped up as a result of the incident. But even if the company had a buzzer system at the door, employees would have let Delagrave in. There was no way of preventing what happened, said officials.


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