Employee threatens co-workers

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In addition to the criminal charge, David Jay Beebe, 45, of Clarksburg, was fired Tuesday from his position as operator of the Williams College heating plant, according to school officials, who did not indicate how long Beebe had worked at the school.

On Monday, campus security officials, concerned about the possibility of a violent incident, contacted local police, who investigated the allegations and arrested Beebe at his Clarksburg home later that evening.

"Workplace violence is like a school shooting in this day and age," said Williamstown Police Chief Kyle J. Johnson, noting that campus officials took the threats seriously.

"Hopefully, (Beebe) was just blowing off steam," Johnson said. "But now it's up to the court to decide."

Beebe was released on personal recognizance after his arraignment in Northern Berkshire District Court on Tuesday. His next scheduled court appearance is Nov. 25.

Judge Michael J. Ripps ordered Beebe to stay away from the college and to have no contact with the co-workers he allegedly threatened. The judge also ordered him to hand over any weapons and gun permits to police.

The incident apparently stemmed from a dispute about vacation time, police said. Beebe had requested to use 80 hours of time to go hunting, but college officials approved only 40 hours, police said.

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"Apparently that didn't sit well with him," Johnson said of Beebe.

It was not the first time Beebe allegedly made threatening remarks to co-workers, according to the police chief.

Jean Thorndike, director of campus safety and security at Williams College, informed students, faculty and staff about the incident in an e-mail message on Tuesday.

Beebe allegedly threatened three heating plant employees last week.

"According to Thorndike, Beebe was upset because he was recently denied vacation time for the upcoming hunting season," according to court records. Beebe reportedly said he had a "plan" to come in and shoot his co-workers and another plan to "rig the boilers to blow up," the records indicated.

Thorndike, in a letter to the "Williams community," said that "heating plant operator Dave Beebe made threatening remarks regarding a few of his co-workers. We reported this to police, who arrested him (Monday) night at his home."

Thorndike said school officials decided to end Beebe's employment and to bar him from the college campus. She also praised the Williamstown and Clarksburg police departments and Massachusetts State Police "for their quick and effective work."

To reach Conor Berry: cberry@berkshireeagle.com; (413) 496-6249.


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