NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA – September 10, 2010 — Action News has learned the identities of the two women who were killed Thursday night when a co-worker opened fire at the Kraft Foods plant in Northeast Philadelphia.
Tanya Wilson, 47, of the 3800 block of N. Franklin Street in Philadelphia and LaTonya Brown, 36, of the 1100 block of West Poplar Street died during the shooting.
The suspect, Yvonne Hiller, 43, was arrested about an hour after the shooting at the plant in the 12000 block of Roosevelt Boulevard.
She is charged with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and one count of aggravated assault. Police say more charges may be coming.
It all began around 8:30 p.m. when, police say, Hiller was suspended from her job and escorted from the plant. Hiller allegedly quarreled with Wilson, leading to her suspension.
Police say she went to her car, called her boyfriend, then retrieved her .357 Magnum, which she had a license to carry.
Hiller then went back to the plant and pointed the gun at a guard, police say, and gained access to the building.
Meanwhile, her boyfriend called police and told them about the conversation he just had with Hiller where police say she said, “She had enough.”
Investigators say she went directly to the third floor mixing area, where she worked, and found four co-workers in a break room. Three of those workers were people Hiller had a problem with, police said.
Once in the break room, police say Hiller told the fourth person to leave. She then allegedly opened fire, killing Wilson and Brown. Brown was shot in the head and Wilson was shot in the side. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
The third worker, Bryant Dalton, 39, was shot in the neck. He has been transferred to Jefferson University Hospital where he is now in stable condition.
After the break room shooting, police say Hiller fired at a plant manager, but missed. Police say she also fired at a plant mechanic, who was following Hiller with a walkie-talkie and was alerting other employees in the business as to what was going on. He was also alerting police via 911 as to where Hiller was located. That mechanic was not injured.
Soon after, police say Hiller went to a second floor office area, turned off the lights, and made more phone calls, including one to 911. On the other end of the line was Corporal Janice Leader who managed to convince Hiller to put down her gun.
SWAT teams then were able to locate Hiller on the second floor. They found on the floor in a fetal position with the gun behind her. She was taken into custody at around 9:39 p.m., a little more than an hour after it all began.
Police say Hiller was not aware that 7 other people were hiding in an adjacent closet to where she was found.
“They had the presence of mind to turn the lights out, to lay low, and to crouch, but they also had the presence of mind to contact someone to let us know that they were there because that obviously changed our tactics,” Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan said.
Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey also said one shot was fired at police through a wall, but no officers were injured.
Hiller has worked at the plant for 15 years. Co-workers said Hiller was a troubled woman who, many times, thought people were out to get her – even believing that co-workers were spraying chemicals on her.
Last November, Hiller filed a complaint with OSHA saying she was being sprayed with chemicals, including deer urine. Kraft responded that it investigated and the complaints were unfounded.
While she could get angry, co-worker Kenny Dorsey said he never expected this level of violence.
“I was in shock, I was really in shock. I didn’t expect this to happen. I lost two of my closest friends,” Dorsey said.
A man whose aunt works in the plant said, after the shootings, the rest of the workers ran for cover.
“She said this lady that works there came in and just wasn’t herself, she walked by her two times…and the next thing you know there were gunshots going off,” the man told Action News.
Hiller lived alone in a row house in Crescentville. Neighbors say she kept to herself, but was friendly.
“She seemed like a nice lady, she introduced herself to me and my family,” neighbor George Harris said.
Family members remember victims of shooting
39-year-old Brian Dalton was critically wounded and is now in stable condition at Jefferson University Hospital.
There is, however, no encouraging news for the families of the two women who died in last night’s workplace shooting.
Terral Brown must now make funeral arrangements for her daughter LaTonya.
“LaTonya would do for anybody if they need her because she was always there; we all are just going to miss her so much,” Terral said.
36-year-old LaTonya was the mother of four, 3 daughters and a 6-year-old son.
Brown’s family says she had worked double shifts all week and was half way through her second shift at Kraft Foods Thursday night when she was gunned down allegedly by her coworker Yvonne Hiller.
Brown’s family is grief stricken, but wants people to know she was a good and hard working mother.
“LaTonya was a very caring person, very affectionate, she’d do anything she could to help anybody, she would go out of her way,” LaTonya’s grandmother Palmeta Saavedra said, adding, “To the one that did this to her, I just pray that the Lord would save her, touch her heart.”
Terral said LaTonya’s father died the same way as his daughter; he was murdered 31 yeaars ago.
Another family grieving is that of 47-year-old Tanya Wilson of North Philadelphia.
Family members told Action News, Yvonne Hiller had said to Wilson earlier in the day that something would happen before the day was over.
Tanya Wilson leaves behind 3 children and 2 grandchildren.
Kraft said in a statement that in addition to the three employees who were shot, a contract worker suffered a less serious injury, but it did not elaborate.
“This is a sad day for the Kraft Foods family,” the statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families. The loss of a loved one is a great sorrow.”
Kraft said the plant would be closed until further notice and the company would provide employees with counseling.
The Kraft Food plant was formerly known as the Nabisco Factory.