Members of the Whitley County Major Crimes Task Force are still trying to determine why the manager of a local plant was shot early Monday morning, and who did it.
Shortly after 5:30 a.m., Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Foley responded to a call at Williamsburg Plastics near Three-Point. He learned that David L. Okeefe Jr., 56, was found outside the plant with a bump to the back of the head and a bullet wound to his left calf, said Sheriff’s Detective Chuck Davis, the lead investigating officer.
“They have a side entrance. He was found there by one of the supervisors that works at Williamsburg Plastics and another gentlemen,” Davis said.
Davis said that so far police have no suspects, and haven’t determined a definite motive for the shooting.
Sheriff Lawrence Hodge, who activated the task force shortly before 8 a.m., said in a press release Monday afternoon that police are investigating a possible lead that the shooting might have been because of a crack down on drug abuse at the plant. He cautioned that this was just one possible lead that was being examined.
“That is the management’s thoughts and our thoughts. We have found doing this that random acts very seldom happen. There is a reason behind everything,” Hodge said. “They (plant officials) don’t like it out in the public, but they are trying to fix it, and I admire them for that.”
Hodge said the plant has had a lot of people test positive during drug screenings, and that there are rumors that drug deals are happening on the plant premises.
“Plant officials call us every time they get wind of something,” Hodge said.
In June 1993, sheriff’s deputies arrested a former Williamsburg Plastics plant manager on a drug trafficking charge when he was found at an Emlyn home that deputies were raiding.
A month later, the former plant manager pleaded guilty to an amended charge of having a prescription not in its original container, and received a 90-day probated jail sentence, and was fined $100.50 in court costs.
The motive for Monday’s shooting doesn’t appear to have been robbery.
“His personal property wasn’t taken, and I didn’t find any signs of any robbery at the plant or on his person, so right now we are just investigating it as a first-degree assault case,” Davis said.
Davis said Okeefe lived in Indiana, and was apparently travelling to the plant for work when employees found him.
Whitley County EMS transported Okeefe to Baptist Regional Medical Center in Corbin where he was treated and released later that afternoon, Davis said.
So far Okeefe hasn’t been able to shed much light on the shooting.
Davis said late Monday afternoon that Corbin Police Capt. Tim Helton interviewed Okeefe at the hospital that morning.
While he hasn’t been able to listen to the tape recording of the interview or talk with Okeefe himself, Davis said from what he has learned, Okeefe apparently didn’t see who shot him.
Okeefe appeared to have been shot with a small caliber gun, which Davis said he believes to be either a .22 or .25 caliber weapon.
Plant employees didn’t report seeing or hearing any gunshots, Davis said.
Okeefe was also struck once in the back to top portion of his head, and had a lump there, police said.
In addition to the gunshot wound to the leg, an examination of Okeefe’s clothes revealed a bullet hole in the left breast area of his shirt, police said.
The bullet didn’t penetrate Okeefe’s chest. It went through his shirt, into his coat sleeve, and into his shirtsleeve, but didn’t penetrate Okeefe’s bicep, Davis said.
So far police haven’t been able to recover that bullet, and doctors don’t plan to remove the bullet from Okeefe’s leg, Davis said.
When asked if he thought the assailant was trying to kill Okeefe, Davis said that the injuries were serious, but not life threatening.
Task force members Kentucky State Police Detective Colan Harrell and Williamsburg Police Detective Wayne Bird are also taking part in the investigation. Officers assisting in the investigation, included: Hodge, Chief Deputy Tim Shelley, Capt. Todd Shelley, Deputy David Lennon, and KSP Troopers Mike Witt, Mike Bowling, and Scott Bunch.
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