Family members mourn victims of Athens workplace shooting

(source: Zotter family)

ATHENS (WATE) – Friends and family are mourning the two people killed in a workplace shooting Thursday in Athens. The gunman is believed to have turned the gun on himself.

James Zotter, 44, and Sandra Cooley, 68, were both supervisors at Thomas & Betts. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says they had a meeting with longtime employee Ricky Swafford, 45. Swafford abruptly left the meeting and came back with a gun, shooting and killing both Zotter and Cooley.

Previous story: 2 supervisors shot, killed by longtime employee of Athens factory

Swafford was later found in a plant restroom dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Zotter’s daughters say they have many memories of their dad.

“He was kind. He would do anything for anybody. he loved his family,” said Amanda Zotter.

Samantha, Amanda and Chelsea Zotter tell us they were shocked to hear the news.

Sandra Cooley (source: family)
Sandra Cooley (source: family)

“Hurt, disbelief,” said Samantha Zotter.

“He was kind to everyone, he never hurt anyone, a really good guy,” said Susie Zotter, James Zotter’s sister. “He didn’t deserve this senseless violence, this whole country we’re going to have to do something before something happens worse than this.”

The family says all they can do now is stick together, stay strong, pray and be thankful more people were not injured.

“I think he tried his best to save a lot more people from the company from getting hurt,” said Chelsea Zotter.

The girls say they’ll miss their dad’s smile and laugh the most.

The family of Sandra Cooley spoke with WTVC-TV in Chattanooga. They say she was about to retire and was only at Thomas & Betts to train her replacement. Cooley’s husband said she loved her job and had been at the company for around 40 years, working her way up the ladder to become a supervisor.

He says she never mentioned Swafford’s name. She was known as “Nanny” in the Athens community.




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