On Monday, Carlos Rodriguez stared into his television in horror as he heard the name and saw the mug shot of 45-year-old John Neumann Jr. flash on his screen.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Rodriguez said.
Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said Neumann, a lone gunman, methodically killed five former co-workers at a factory where he’d been fired in April. Neumann acted methodically, singling out his victims and reloading a semi-automatic pistol during the attack.
“I just know for a fact if I had been there, there is no doubt in my mind I would've been a victim, I would be dead,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez was fired from the company in May of 2014 after he had an altercation with Neumann. According to an Orange County Sheriff’s Office report, Neumann attacked Rodriguez hitting him “on the back of the head” and knocking him to the ground. Neumann then “punched him several times and also tried to choke him with the strap of his book bag.”
Rodriguez said he told his 69-year-old boss Robert “Bob” Snyder about the attack the next day.
“I report to Bob this guy ambushed me that day before and I was going to pursue it legally, I was upset,” Rodriguez said. "Bob is trying to calm me down, he's saying listen take a couple of days off. Then Friday, Bob informed me over the phone ‘listen we made a decision we are letting you go.’ He didn't have to come out and tell me they are keeping John I knew they were keeping John.”
Rodriguez said he couldn’t believe he was the victim of an attack and he was losing his job.
“I tried to warn them I really wanted to get rid of him. If it had been up to me he'd be gone a long time ago,” Rodriguez said.
The sheriff said Neumann fatally shot Snyder, 46-year-old Kevin Lawson, 44-year-old Brenda Montanez-Crespo, 53-year-old Kevin Clark and 57-year-old Jeff Roberts, before turning the gun on himself.
“I feel sad about it, really, my condolences go out to his family and all the ones that were effected. But, at the same time, I wish they would've just listened to my concerns.”
Rodriguez filed a restraining order against Neumann following his 2014 attack. The handwritten court document dated May 6, 2014 is an eerie prophecy of what was to come for five of his former co-workers. At the time, Rodriguez assumed he would be Neumann’s first target.
“I am in fear for my life what’s he got to do kill me? Before I can get justice. I fear for my family. I see a pattern of abuse with (John Neumann) I’m sure other co-workers feel the same,” Rodriguez wrote.
Rodriguez said he hasn’t looked at the court documents since he filed them. He still can’t believe he wrote that three years ago and now this happened.
“Now, ultimately the guy goes and kills everybody in the freaking building,” Rodriguez said. “To actually say those words, and the guy goes out and kills everyone there, well five people, those words just stand out to me.”