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Six dead in Mississippi factory shooting

(CNN) -- Five people were shot dead Tuesday by a gunman who then killed himself at an aircraft parts plant near Meridian, Mississippi, a county sheriff told CNN.

Eight other people were injured by the man armed with a shotgun and a semiautomatic rifle, Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie said. They have been taken to local hospitals and some were in a critical condition, the sheriff added.

"He went through the entire plant, shooting individuals throughout the facility," Sollie said. "Several of the victims fell at their work stations."

Sollie said it appeared the gunman -- an employee at the plant -- was shooting randomly rather than targeting individual workers.

'Shock, horror and great grief'

Meridian Mayor John Smith called the shooting, which began at about 10 a.m., an "unspeakable tragedy."

"Nothing like this has ever happened here," Smith said. "We pride ourselves on being the safest city in Mississippi with more than 30,000 people. If we have three to four violent deaths a year that's a surprise to us."

Surviving employees remained inside the plant about an hour after the shooting, with a group of local pastors attending to them.

More clergy were working with family members who assembled across the road from the plant, located in an industrial park about three miles outside Meridian.

Sollie said that as they raced to the factory, employees told them by phone that numerous people had been injured.

No motive for shootings

No motive for the shooting was immediately known and the gunman's name has not been released.

"We're going to speak to each employee, find out his friends, his group of friends and hopefully find out information from them that will aid management if it is a problem with the plant or with the management or with other employees," Sollie said.

A SWAT team from the Meridian Police Department and several fire department units were on the scene, officials with those agencies told CNN.

The Lockheed Martin aircraft plant, which employs about 100 people, builds structural subassemblies for the C-130J Hercules transport and the F-22 Raptor fighter.

Meaghan Mariman, a spokeswoman at Lockheed Martin's Bethesda, Maryland, headquarters, said the company is still trying to gather information on the shooting and no statement would be issued until all victims' families have been contacted.