SPRINGFIELD, KY (WAVE) - Police in Washington County believe a man arrested with multiple guns at an industrial park was planning a mass shooting.
Matthew R. Smith, 37, of Willisburg, KY, faces multiple charges, including attempted murder.
“You just sit there and think, what in the world was this guy thinking?” Springfield Assistant Police Chief Joe Templeman said.
Employees of LB Manufacturing told officers they saw Smith looking into cars outside, so they called 911 just after 4 p.m. Monday.
The initial call to Springfield Police gave no indication of any potential for violence.
“I’m at LB Manufacturing and we have a visitor that won’t leave our parking lot,” the caller told police.
Police arrived to find Smith inside a Chevrolet Silverado. When officers tried to question Smith from his truck, they said he wasn’t cooperating, so Templeman tried to open Smith’s door.
“He brings the gun up from his waist and brings it to my chest,” Templeman said. “And I end up being able to grab it and pull him out of the vehicle, remove the gun and hand it off to my captain and we take him to the ground.”
Police found a second gun in Smith’s waistband and another strapped to his ankle. In the truck they discovered a .308 rifle and an AR 15 with a 40 round magazine.
“It appeared he may have tampered with it to make it fire continuously with one trigger pull, which would release several bullets per minute or per second,” Jim Smith, Springfield Police Chief, said.
There were also “multiple fully loaded magazines” for each of the semi-automatic weapons, according to Smith’s arrest report. The chief said “he was loaded up for World War III,” but it’s what he told officers that was most concerning.
During questioning, Smith told police he was trying to find a woman that he had dropped off at the business that morning. Smith said the woman had not answered any of his calls and he believed she was being trafficked. Smith went on to say he “brought what he needed to get the job done.”
“He was there to do what needed to be done, as he stated,” Smith said. “And that, I believe, was to conduct a mass shooting."
Smith added: “He knew there was one way in, one way out. He even knew how many air vents were on the roof so as to gain access. All the facts that were made available to us that day...indicates to us and to me personally that he was there to conduct a mass shooting.”
Police said they’re grateful those two employees reported Smith’s behavior when they did. If they hadn’t, instead of an arrest being made, people may have been coming out in body bags.
"You know my guys and those two employees stopped a potential mass shooting," Smith said.
In a statement sent to WAVE 3 news, Springfield Mayor Debbie Wakefield said: “This is proof that the ‘see something, say something movement’ pays off because of the proactive approach that LB Manufacturing officials took in immediately notifying our Police Department. It is commendable that our officers were quickly able to apprehend this suspect professionally to divert what could have been a tragedy.”
In addition to attempted murder, Smith is charged with wanton endangerment, resisting arrest and criminal trespassing.
Smith, who is being held without bond at the Marion County Detention Center, may also face federal weapons charges.