SAN LEANDRO, Calif. -- A man who protested government inspections of his sausage factory was in custody Thursday after allegedly shooting three inspectors to death and chasing a fourth with a gun after they showed up for a visit.
The Santos Linguisa factory had recently reopened after being closed for health violations. Its owner, Stuart Alexander, is a former mayoral candidate in this Bay Area community with a history of legal and financial problems.
The bodies of the three victims -- two inspectors for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a state meat inspector -- were found in a corner office Wednesday. They had multiple gunshot wounds.
The names of the two men and woman were not immediately released.
The fourth inspector narrowly escaped, fleeing down the street as Alexander ran after him and fired in his direction, San Leandro Police Lt. Dan Marchetti said.
Alexander, 39, eventually turned around, set the gun down inside the factory and waited outside, he said. He was captured without incident a few minutes later.
A sign outside the factory, which has been in Alexander's family for three generations, decried alleged harassment by inspectors. It was signed by Alexander.
''To all our great customers, the USDA is coming into our plant harassing my employees and me, making it impossible to make our great product,'' the sign reads. ''Gee, if all meat plants could be in business for 79 years without one complaint, the meat inspectors would not have jobs. Therefore, we are taking legal action against them.''
Danny Gomes, a friend of Alexander's who waited outside the police tape at the factory for news, told The Daily Review of Hayward that Alexander was upset because inspectors wanted him to raise the temperature of his meat while preparing sausage.
The unarmed inspectors arrived at about 2 p.m. and called a supervisor to say that Alexander was not there, Marchetti said. The shooting started 90 minutes later inside the storefront factory, where about 10 employees worked for Alexander.
Police found three guns inside the plant, located a few miles south of Oakland.
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