March 7, 1998 in Nation/World

Gunman Kills 4, Self At Lottery Office Accountant Had Been On Stress-Related Leave

Strat Douthat Associated Press
 

A state lottery accountant who returned from stress-related disability only last week gunned down three supervisors, then chased down the lottery chief in the parking lot and killed him, too.

The man shot himself to death as police closed in.

The gunman, Matthew Beck, 35, an eight-year lottery employee, walked into a meeting, told one victim, “Bye, bye” and opened fire, one witness said. Beck shot all of his victims several times with a semiautomatic handgun. He also stabbed his first victim.

Beck had put in about a half-hour of work Friday before the rampage.

“I saw him come in and hang up his coat,” said Peter Donahue, who works in the accounting office. “He didn’t come in and just start blasting. He planned it.”

The sound of gunshots sent dozens of terrified workers rushing to the doors, where security guards yelled for them to run for the woods nearby.

Lottery president and chief executive Otho Brown, 54, joined the security guards in yelling for everyone to “just get out and run,” said Shannon O’Neill. Brown fled the building and Beck pursued him. When Brown stumbled in the gravel parking lot after about 100 yards, apparently after losing his left shoe, Beck shot him to death.

“We all took off for the woods and that was it. We heard gunshots when we were halfway through the woods,” said O’Neill, a field representative for the lottery.

Seconds later, with at least two police officers watching, Beck shot himself. He later died at a hospital.

Master Sgt. Gregory Chelso of the state police said Beck had a pistol and “lots of ammunition.”

Beck’s supervisor, Karen Kalandyk, said she was sitting next to the lottery’s chief financial officer, Linda Mlynarczyk, at a meeting with four other people when Beck came in.

“He walked in and put his hand up with the gun and said, ‘Bye-bye,’ to her and shot her three times,” Kalandyk said.

The other workers dived under the table as Beck walked down the corridor, firing more shots. Someone went over to Mlynarczyk, 38, also a former mayor of New Britain, but she was already dead, Kalandyk said.

Also killed inside were Frederick Rubelmann III, 40, vice president of operations, and Michael Logan, 33, an information services manager. Logan, the first victim, was shot and stabbed with a butcher-like knife.

“The whole state mourns this unexplained act of violence,” said Gov. John G. Rowland.

About 20 workers had taken refuge in another part of the building used by a paint distributor. A 45-year-old man suffered a head injury as he jumped onto a moving vehicle while trying to get out of Beck’s way.

There is no armed security at lottery headquarters, about 10 miles south of Hartford. About 115 state workers are employed there, but it was unclear how many were there at the time of the shooting.

Beck was transferred from accounting to data processing in July 1996 and filed a grievance a year later, contending he should have paid more and wanted to go back to accounting.

In January, lottery officials acknowledged he was doing the wrong job, but they and Beck were still negotiating his claim for back pay. Union officials could not estimate how much Beck was owed.

He took a medical leave for job-related stress in October, returning to work Feb. 25. Two days later, he met with his union steward, Joseph Mudry, and Mlynarczyk.

“There was no indication that he was upset,” Mudry said.

Beck called Mudry twice this week, in part asking about his back pay. He was applying to other state agencies to get another accounting job, but had not found anything, Mudry said.

Beck was so depressed at one point in January 1997 that someone called the police to his apartment in Cromwell. He was not home when police got there and was found later with a friend, said Capt. Tom Roohr.

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