CHESTERFIELD -- A gunman went to the Pfizer headquarters and began shooting this afternoon (Jan. 8, 2009), injuring at least one woman and causing schools to be locked down.
The gunman is still at large.
One woman, a contractor working on a building almost completed at the campus, was shot in the foot, police said. The shooting occurred about 12:15 p.m. at a building of Pfizer Inc., in the business complex in the 700 block of Chesterfield Parkway West.
Chesterfield police Lt. Steven Lewis held a press conference just before 3 p.m. As he spoke, a black police helicopter slowly circled the scene in a steady pattern over the headquarters as the search continued.
"It's possible that the suspect is still not in the area at this time," Lewis said. He said police got to the scene within a few minutes, but it is possible that the suspect could have gotten off the campus, he said. "We will continue our investigation with the best information that we have."
Lewis said police at this time were unable to get a description of the gunman.
The shooting happened on a construction site at Pfizer's global research and development laboratory. The company's sprawling campus is situated on rolling hills in Chesterfield. Some areas are heavily wooded. It is a 300-acre campus.
Pfizer is one of the largest employers in west St. Louis County.
Lewis said that the woman who was shot was taken to St. John's Mercy Medical Center in Creve Coeur and was listed this afternoon in satisfactory condition. Police will be interviewing her to determine whether there is any connection between the victim and the gunman.
Police had locked down the main gate, but at 3:20 p.m. they reopened it and began letting employees leave. Employees' vehicles were searched before they were allowed to exit the campus. No one was being allowed in at that time.
Employees leaving the campus this afternoon said they heard about the attack from announcements made over the company's intercom.
"They said stay put, so we stayed put," said Ted Macrae, of Wildwood. Macrae was commuting home from Pfizer on his bicycle.
Macrae said a later announcement confirmed the rumor that had been going across the campus that a woman had been shot in one of the Pfizer buildings.
Some of the officers on the scene were in full tactical armor, including helmets, and were carrying automatic rifles.
The main entrance is off Chesterfield Parkway West near Highway 40 and near Chesterfield City Hall.
St. Louis County Police are assisting the Chesterfield Police Department. Pfizer Security guards are also involved in the operations. They are combing the woods and searching buildings for the gunman.
About 2:20 p.m., the Parkway School District in west St. Louis County told parents that it was ending its lockdown caused when the shooting started at Pfizer.
Cathy Kelly, Communications Coordinator for Parkway schools, said Chesterfield police called and gave the all clear. The plan to reroute buses and hold students has been lifted, and all trips home are back to normal. "Police have given us the all-clear," Kelly said.
Students, however, have not all been released yet. Middle school students get out around 2 p.m. Most elementaries in Parkway get out around 3:05 p.m.; high schools at just before 3 p.m.. All students will be let go at their normal times, officials said.
Reporter Patrick O'Connell and David Hunn contributed information for this story.
Copyright (c) 2009, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.