Still no motive in Cummins shooting

Police believe they have a pretty clear picture of what happened on the morning of March 10 when a Cummins employee shot and killed his supervisor and turned the gun on himself at Cummins Seymour Technical Center.

They, however, still don’t have a motive as to why Qing Chen, 37, of Seymour showed up for work and 16 minutes later shot and killed Ward R. Edwards II, 49, of Columbus and then himself.

And they may never know, Police Chief Bill Abbott said.

“We have a good outline of the way things worked out, but it doesn’t really shed any more light on what happened,” Abbott said.

Video shows that Chen entered the technical center at 8:29 a.m. Seymour dispatchers received the first report of an active shooter on the second floor of the center, which opened in October 2015 along Fourth Street, at 8:45 a.m.

In talking with others there that day, there were not any loud arguments or yelling, Abbott said.

Abbott was among the first officers to arrive at the center, and they did not find a chaotic scene, he said.

“There were a lot of employees exiting the buildings,” Abbott said of the complex, which includes Seymour Engine Plant. The plant and technical center are connected by a common area that includes a cafeteria.

Abbott said a fire alarm had been pulled, and that was helpful in getting a lot of the employees to leave quickly and safely.

Police initially were directed to the technical center, and there were still people inside there, Abbott said.

Those people were ordered to lie on the floor with their hands up because at that time, police still thought they had an active shooter.

“Everyone was compliant, and that made our jobs easier,” Abbott said.

A team of four officers then went upstairs to a small meeting room and found two people dead and a 9mm Glock handgun, which police later found belonged to Chen. They also found five shell casings.

At that point, police knew they likely no longer had an active shooter situation, so they secured the scene, Abbott said.

“We weren’t 100 percent sure there wasn’t something else going on,” he said.

After talking with management, it was decided to search the technical center and engine plant, creating the need for a lot more manpower, Abbott said.

Chen had 45 bullets left over at the murder-suicide scene, but Abbott said there is no proof he intended to shoot anyone else.

Police also found three rifles in his apartment on Sycamore Road on the east side of the city, but they believe Chen purchased those legally along with the Glock he used at the technical center, Abbott said.

Chen, a Chinese national in the U.S. on a five-year work visa, had purchased the Glock in 2012 in Plainfield.

Abbott said police completed a background check on Chen and found just one incident about a year ago when someone reported a man walking in the Jackson-Washington State Forest east of Brownstown. Officers with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department investigated that incident, which did not result in an arrest.

Police also examined Chen’s personnel file and found no issues in that file to explain what occurred that day.

They questioned Edwards’ family to see if they knew of any issues between the two.

“They didn’t know of anything out of the ordinary,” Abbott said.

Abbott said more than a month after the investigation began his officers are trying to finish their report so it can be sent to the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office and the Indiana Department of Labor. He expects that to be finished soon.

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Aubrey Woods is editor of The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at awoods@tribtown.com or 812-523-7051.