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Fatal shooting at Kernersville manufacturing plant under investigation, Forsyth County Sheriff's Office says

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An employee at a Kernersville battery-manufacturing plant was shot to death Tuesday night during an argument with another employee, authorities said Wednesday.

Erik Bailey, 34, of Winston-Salem died at the scene, Forsyth County Sheriff Bobby Kimbrough Jr. said.

Sheriff’s deputies received a call about 11:15 p.m. about shots being fired in the Clarios plant in the 2700 block of Powering Progress Drive, said Kimbrough and Christina Howell, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. The plant, off West Mountain Street, was formerly Johnson Controls.

When deputies arrived at the scene, they found Bailey suffering from a gunshot wound, Kimbrough said. Bailey died at the scene.

Investigators have determined that Bailey and an employee got into an argument that ended with Bailey being shot and killed, Kimbrough said.

The investigators have spoken with someone about the shooting, but no charges had been filed against that person on Wednesday, Kimbrough said.

The sheriff’s office is consulting the Forsyth County District Attorney’s office regarding charges being filed in the case, the sheriff said.

Shaunne Hall of Winston-Salem, the mother of Erik Bailey, said she heard from a first responder that Bailey was involved in an argument with a male employee. Hall was told that the employee spit in Bailey’s face during the incident.

A fight then ensued between Bailey and the employee, Hall said. At some point, the employee went to his vehicle, got a handgun and shot Bailey in the chest, Hall was told.

Bailey had been working at the plant since early March, Hall said. Her son had previously worked at the Winston Weaver Co. fertilizer plant in Winston-Salem. A Jan. 31 fire destroyed the fertilizer plant.

An autopsy has been performed on Bailey’s body at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Hall said.

Kimbrough said he could neither confirm nor deny Hall’s account of what happened in the incident because this is an ongoing investigation.

Kimbrough expressed his condolences to Bailey’s family members.

“We are at a place where families are distraught,” Kimbrough said. “I hate seeing the pain, the tears and the sadness. As a community, we are better than this.”

The suspect was not at the scene when deputies arrived, the sheriff said.

At the time of the shooting, nearly 200 employees were working at the plant, Kimbrough said. Deputies are gathering evidence and trying to determine if there are witnesses to the shooting, he said.

“We will conduct a thorough investigation and get to the bottom of this,” Kimbrough said.

The shooting was not a random incident, and there is no danger to the Kernersville community or to other people at the plant, Howell said.

Hall described Bailey as a good father to his 10-year-old son, Tyler.

“My only concern is his son,” Hall said. “He will be taken care of.

“It doesn’t matter if you have a thousand male role models for him, they will never replace his dad,” Hall said.

Bailey’s funeral arrangements are incomplete, his mother said.

Kathryn Campbell, a Clarios spokeswoman, confirmed Wednesday that the fatal shooting happened Tuesday night at its Kernersville plant.

“There was one fatality,” Campbell said. “Our sincere condolences go out to our colleagues’ families, friends and co-workers.”

Clarios officials “are closely managing the facility and fully cooperating with authorities to ensure the continued safety and support of our employees, their families, and the surrounding community, as the investigation into the incident continues,” Campbell said.

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@jhintonWSJ

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