Skip to main content

Suspect in Orlando shooting spree charged with first-degree murder

Click to play
Shooting suspect in custody
  • NEW: Jason Rodriguez, 40, charged with first-degree murder in office shootings
  • NEW: Suspect "was recognized by numerous former co-workers," affidavit states
  • "They left me to rot," suspect says as police escort him past reporters
  • Company spokesman: Rodriguz was let go "for performance issues" in 2007

Orlando, Florida (CNN) -- A 40-year-old man accused of killing one and wounding five in a shooting at a business where he once worked was charged Friday with first-degree murder, police said.

"I'm just going through a tough time right now, I'm sorry," the 40-year-old suspect who had recently declared bankruptcy allegedly told police as he was taken into custody.

Authorities identified the suspect as Jason Rodriguez, a former employee of Reynolds Smith & Hills, whose offices are located in the 16-story Gateway Center building.

The incident began at 11:44 a.m., when Rodriguez entered the business' eighth-floor reception area, said Lt. Louis Tanzi, violent crimes section commander for the Orlando Police Department.

"He produced a handgun and started shooting in the reception area and continued shooting in the entire office area until he left," he told reporters.

According to the charging affidavit, the fatality occurred when Rodriguez entered the suite, pulled a handgun from a holster under his shirt and shot twice at an employee who was standing near the receptionist's desk.

He then entered a common work area "firing multiple rounds and causing injuries to several other employees," it says, citing a witness.

During the incident, Rodriguez "was recognized by numerous former co-workers," it says.

He then left in a car, described by witnesses as a small, silver compact vehicle, the affidavit says.

Police went to his residence where they found a 2001 four-door silver Hyundai, it says.

Video: Orlando suspect identified

As police were disabling the car, Rodriguez appeared at the window of the residence, his hands in the air, and surrendered without incident, the affidavit says.

Asked by a reporter why he allegedly committed the crime, Rodriguez, escorted by police, said, "They left me to rot."

Paraded in front of reporters outside the police station, he said, "Innocent."

Tanzi said he was "very comfortable" that authorities have the right man. "We're positive; we have eyewitnesses who have identified him," he said, adding that Rodriguez will be facing other charges as well.

Tanzi said other employees of the architectural and engineering firm where the attack occurred have described Rodriguez as a "disgruntled former employee."

A company spokesman said Rodriguez had been let go from the company two years ago for "performance issues."

Ken Jacobson, the chief financial officer and chief legal counsel for Reynolds, Smith & Hills, said that Rodriguez was hired as an "engineer one," which he described as a "beginning engineer."

"His work performance was pretty deficient from the start," he said.

"We tried to work with his performance for 11 months and when he didn't improve, we let him go in June of 2007."

The company hadn't heard from him since -- until Friday's outburst, he said. "So we can't make any sense of this," he said.

The affidavit describes apparently conflicting reasons for his departure. Rodriguez told a detective that he had resigned from the company after five years there to get a better job, it says. But it adds, "Rodriguez stated that people at RS&H, the Orlando Office, harassed him and threw him out for no reason at all, making it look like incompetency."

He told police that, after a year and a half of unemployment, he found work at a Subway Restaurant, but was not given enough hours so he filed for unemployment, according to the affidavit. "Rodriguez felt the people at RS&H were hindering his efforts to obtain unemployment benefits," it adds. "Rodriguez stated he was expecting an unemployment check but it did not come as expected. Rodriguez stated he felt he was forced into a situation where he could no longer provide for his family."

Tanzi said police recovered a firearm and had received "limited cooperation" from the suspect.

The five wounded victims are all in stable condition, he said. iReport: See emergency crews on the scene in Orlando

Asked about the building's security system, he said it was typical of the city's office buildings with a security officer in the front and surveillance cameras. "It's nothing elaborate," he said.

Public records indicate that Rodriguez filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last May and that the case was discharged in September.

Four of the victims were being treated at Orlando Regional Medical Center, and one had gone into surgery, spokeswoman Katie Dagenais said.

The fifth victim was at Florida Hospital, the hospital said.

Read local coverage from CNN affiliate WESH

Read local coverage from CNN affiliate WFTV

Read local coverage from CNN affiliate WKMG


CNN's John Couwels, Carolina Sanchez and Rich Phillips contributed to this report