CHICAGO (AP)- A man who had been fired from an auto parts warehouse six months ago came back with a gun Wednesday and killed six employees in a rampage through a maze of engine blocks and 55-gallon drums before being shot to death by police.

Salvador Tapia died in a gun battle he waged with police inside and outside of the building, hiding behind a container as he fired off rounds from his semiautomatic pistol, authorities said.

“He got up, he had the gun, they ordered him to drop the gun, he refused to drop the gun. That’s when the officer shot him,” acting Police Superintendent Phil Cline said.

“We saw a guy shooting at police officers outside the building and saw people running around like crazy,” said Al Martinez, who owns a business a half-block away. “We came and saw all the cops running, hiding behind cars.”

Tapia, 36, lost his job Windy City Core Supply about six months ago for causing trouble at work and frequently showing up late or not at all, Cline said. He said Tapia had an extensive arrest record.

Cline said when police arrived shortly after 8:30 a.m., they tried to get in the building but were driven back by gunfire.

He said when an assault team entered the building they had trouble maneuvering through all the auto parts.

He said four people died at the scene. Tapia and two others were taken to hospitals and died there.

“From the scene it appears that he went throughout the supply warehouse shooting them,” said Cline. “They weren’t all in one section.”

Tapia also tied one man’s hands behind his back, but the employee escaped unharmed, Cline said.

Pamela George was cooking at the Dox Grill across the street when a warehouse worker ran in, looking for a phone. “He said someone was in there shooting. He was really scared, like a chicken with its head cut off,” she said.

She said police arrived and evacuated the restaurant within five minutes. All buildings within a block of the auto parts and supply store were evacuated.

It was the nation’s deadliest workplace shooting since July 8, when Doug Williams shot 14 co-workers, killing six, at a Lockheed Martin aircraft parts plant in Meridian, Miss., before taking his own life.

In the Chicago area, William D. Baker, 66, killed four people and himself at a Navistar International engine plant in suburban Melrose Park in February 2001.

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