New book details shooting rampage at Jackson fire station - - Jackson, MS

New book details shooting rampage at Jackson fire station

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Kenneth Tornes Kenneth Tornes
David Berry David Berry
Noraine Moree Noraine Moree
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

It was the darkest day in the history of the Jackson Fire Department. A disgruntled firefighter walked into the main fire station downtown and started shooting. Four of his colleagues were killed. 

Now, sixteen years later, the wife of one of the fallen firefighters and a former arson investigator have written a book about that day and what may have motivated the shooter. It's called, "White Shirts." 

It was a shocking story where a Jackson firefighter went into the headquarters of the Jackson Fire Department, killed four Jackson fire officials, and wounded two others in the middle of the afternoon of April 24, 1996.   

The man who did the shooting, a Jackson firefighter himself, Kenneth Tornes, was wounded in a gun battle with two Ridgeland police officers, both of whom were shot, later that day. 

It is the inside story of the turmoil in the Jackson Fire Department that came after an outsider, Joe Donovan, who came to Jackson as a fire consultant, was named chief.  

Donovan was hiding under his desk as the other firemen were being killed, according to the book.

The author of the book is Dave Berry, who was head of the arson division of the Jackson Fire Department and was in the building when the shootings occurred. He fired a gun at Tornes as Tornes was leaving the building.   

W asked him what the lesson of the book is.   

"There needs to be, if there is an issue to be addressed, everyone needs to come together and try to solve what that issue is. Whether it's resolved for the employee or whether it's resolved for management," said Berry. "The fact that you are not speaking and you are not addressing these issues creates a bigger problem than trying to solve these issues." 

The book is co- authored by Noraine Moree, the widow of one of the firemen who was killed. She decided not to be interviewed about the book after seeing the interview we did with Dave Berry, saying he did a good job.  

Berry did tell us she is the reason the book was written.  

"The driving force behind the book was Noraine of course, and she felt like there was a lesson that needed to be told, and that lesson has to do with management and employees, and how they should work together," said Berry.

I got a confession from Tornes as he was being transferred from the hospital to the Hinds County Jail.  

"Tell them I'm sorry and I will pay for it with my life," said Tornes. 

Berry told us that was the first confession he was aware of from Tornes.  

"Well I thought that was probably the first time that anyone had gotten a confession from him Bert. To learn that he admitted to it, gave everybody closure."

 Tornes was found guilty of the crime and died of natural causes in prison at age 36. 

As one who covered the aftermath of the murders of four Jackson firemen and the shooting of two others by Kenneth Tornes, I can tell you, you will find this book fascinating. It answers many unanswered questions you may have about the incident. You can read it very quickly, it's only 186 pages. 

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