A demoted worker from suburban Tower Lakes shot and critically wounded his company's CEO before fatally shooting himself Thursday inside a downtown high-rise office building in Chicago's bustling financial district, police said.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said Tony DeFrances, chief technology officer for ArrowStream, pulled a gun during a one-on-one meeting with CEO Steven LaVoie. There was a struggle for the gun, and LaVoie was shot in the head and abdomen before DeFrances shot himself, McCarthy said.
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DeFrances, 60, was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to a company biography, DeFrances had been with ArrowStream since it was founded and had spent more than 25 years working in technology. He lived in Tower Lakes with his wife, Eileen, and three adult children, according to the biography and neighbors.
McCarthy said the company was downsizing and "a number of people," including DeFrances, were being reassigned.
"Apparently he was despondent over the fact that he got demoted," McCarthy said.
Neighbors in Tower Lakes expressed shock over the shootings.
"They've been our neighbors for 25 years. We're praying for them. It's very sad," said next-door neighbor Carol Rolfs. "We've known them for a long time. They're a wonderful family."
"They're a nice family," Marjorie Overmyer added. "We had no idea."
Tower Lakes Village President Kathleen Leitner said DeFrances had been a resident of the village for more than two decades. She knew him from neighborhood parties and the fact that their children had known each other growing up.
"We're shocked and saddened and sorry for the family," Leitner said. "This is completely out of the blue. My heart goes out to the family."
LaVoie, the 54-year-old victim and CEO of the company, was listed in critical condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
His family expressed thanks for the concern but also sympathy for the shooter's family through a statement on Thursday night.
"A horrific personal tragedy has happened today to two families," read a statement released from LaVoie's family. "(We) would like to thank the staff and doctors at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Chicago law enforcement personnel for their ongoing and tireless efforts on behalf of Steven. Thank you to our family and friends for your outpouring of love and support. Our thoughts are also with Steven's extended family, the employees of ArrowStream, who mean so much to Steven. Finally, our prayers are with the other family affected by this tragedy."
Illinois State Police said there was no firearm owner's ID card registered to DeFrances' name or address, and it was unclear on Thursday where he got the gun.
About 10 people were in the 17th-floor office at the time of the shooting, McCarthy said.
The office is in the Bank of America building, which is two blocks from the Willis Tower and a block from the Chicago Board of Trade and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Officers were called to the scene about 9:50 a.m. As police cordoned off the immediate area outside the building, several SWAT team members and other officers rushed inside, where they found two men on the floor, both of them shot.
Workers elsewhere in the building said they received warnings from building security over the intercom and in emails around 10 a.m. telling them there was a security situation in the lobby and to stay at their desks.
"It was a tense atmosphere, everybody was walking around, you wanted more details but they wouldn't give us much," Stefano Freddo, who works on the building's 10th floor, told The Associated Press.
He said someone came over the intercom a few minutes later to tell them it was safe to leave their offices.
Freddo, 32, said security officers are stationed in the building and that workers need a badge showing they work there to gain access to the elevators in the lobby. But he said there are no metal detectors in the building.
"Maybe we should have those," he said.
Workplace violence results in 1,000 homicides annually in the U.S., said Sarah Katula, a clinical nurse specialist in psychiatry at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.
"It's not commonplace, but when it happens, it's devastating," Katula said. "If an organization is going to downsize, restructure or merge, all of those things can lead to aggression." Katula said employers can try to create a culture of safety have zero tolerance for uncivil behavior at work.
A statement released by ArrowStream on Thursday said, "We are deeply saddened and shocked by the events that have occurred today. Our focus during this tragedy is to ensure the well-being of our ArrowStream family. We want to assure our customers that our business continuity plan is in place, and our operations will continue to function normally. We appreciate the concern and care expressed by so many."
• Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.