ELIZABETHTOWN, NC – A North Carolina man, who was a former contract employee at the Smithfield Foods Inc. Tar Heel plant, was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison for the attempted murder of two employees.  

District Attorney for Bladen County, Jon David, said in a news release that Jaquante Hakeem Williams will be in prison between 188 months to 250 months.

“The shooting at the Smithfield plant was a senseless act of workplace violence deserving of maximum justice,” David said. “I commend investigators with the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office for conducting a comprehensive investigation and for providing the evidence to secure this conviction.”

On November 21, 2019, law enforcement were called to the plant in response to reports of an active shooter at the facility.

The District Attorney’s office said Williams entered an administrative building around 12:14 a.m. and shot two people: Anthony Ratley and Marleni Simiona Gonzalez Velazquez. He then fled the scene and threw away his gun. Williams was later found and surrendered to the police. 

Both victims were flown by helicopter to a hospital and treated for their wounds. 

Before shooting both people, the report said that Williams had an altercation with Ratley. Velazquez was caught in the line of fire. 

At the time of the incident, employees were allowed back into the plant after the suspect was apprehended and the crime scene was secured. According to the MEAT+POULTRY report in 2019, that was about 90 minutes after the evacuation.