NEW OXFORD, Pa. (WHTM) – A recently fired employee at a poultry processing facility shot and killed his former boss and then himself, police said.
Police say 75-year-old Phillip Hughes of Marshville, North Carolina, was an independent trucking contractor working for the Plainville Farms distribution facility in New Oxford. He was let go Tuesday.
Investigators say Hughes waited for his former transportation supervisor, 58-year-old John Frey of York, to show up to work Wednesday. They say he then followed Frey into the parking lot and shot him twice at point-blank range at around 5:20 a.m.
“There was only one witness at the time and he was jockeying trucks back and forth,” Eastern Adams Regional Police Chief Francis Staab said. “They were the only two people, besides the witness, in the parking lot.”
The witness told police that before the shooting, he observed Hughes driving up and down the driveway in a white Dodge Caravan, looking suspicious. He said Hughes was parked in the adjacent parking lot for some time.
Police believe Hughes was specifically waiting for Frey.
“We feel he was taking retaliation or he was distraught or had a mental condition,” Staab said.
The facility reopened once the scene was cleared. The company provided crisis counselors for employees.
Plainville Farms sent a statement, saying, in part, “Plainville Farms is a family and we are in mourning … Our thoughts and prayers are with the families that have been affected by this tragedy.”
Investigators said the company didn’t have any signs that Hughes was violent. Police did not know why he was fired.
Staab says there hasn’t been a murder in the area in years.
“Police cars, flashing lights,” said Howard Gill, who lives across the street from the facility. “It’s devastating because it’s been really quiet and you don’t expect those things to happen in a small town.”