MORGAN HILL (KPIX 5) – A heroic struggle by one of the victims of a deadly workplace shooting at a Morgan Hill car dealership allowed other employees to escape to safety as he was shot several times while wrestling with the gunman for the weapon, authorities said Wednesday.
Authorities said 60-year-old Steven Leet was the gunman and his two victims were former co-workers Brian Light, 59, and Xavier Souto, 38.
Souto was a San Jose resident who had worked at the dealership since 2012 and was the parts manager. He is survived by a wife and two sons.
“Xavier was known for the love of his family, extended family and the love of his work,” said Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing.
Light had been working at the dealership since 2018. He was the parts and service director.
Swing said Leet had been an employee in the parts department and was overseen by both Light and Souto. Leet had been fired at 4:15 p.m. the afternoon of the shooting.
A SWAT team, armed with a search warrant, surrounded Leet’s San Jose home in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday and used flash grenades and a battering ram to enter the residence.
“In the service of the search warrant they (the SWAT team) found no other evidence of pre-planning or motive or anything else that would lead us to why this incident occurred,” Swing told reporters at an afternoon press conference. “It appears that is was the spontaneous action on behalf of the suspect which unfortunately resulted in the loss of two men.”
Swing said Leet left the building, sat in his car for about 20 minutes before returning to his work station. He was escorted to a back office where he had a conversation with the two victims. He then shot Souto at point blank range, killing him immediately.
“Brian [Light] then engaged the suspect and tried to disarm him,” Swing said. “The suspect shot Brian multiple times in the struggle for the gun … Brian’s actions allowed people to flee — the precious seconds they needed to flee after hearing the first shot.”
“That would’ve been the kind of guy that Brian was, he would’ve done that,” said Donna Fleming who lived next to Light for two years. “A generous nice, caring, fun loving guy; couldn’t have asked for a better person.”
A woman who lived near Leet said the suspect gave no outward indication he was capable of such violence.
“It’s cliche but it’s true. Sometimes you just don’t know someone. And it’s the quiet ones and I just think it’s really sad,” said neighbor Sherri Lebaudour-Ewing, who has lived across the street from Leet for 15 years.
She said he lived by himself and never had visitors. Lebaudour-Ewing also said he recently shared that he was unhappy at work.
“Steve used to complain about his job a lot because he got bullied. That’s all. I don’t know any of the details,” she said.
Police were called to The Ford Store in Morgan Hill after reports of a shooting shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday night.
Officials said two men were found dead inside the building, while the suspected gunman was found dead nearby of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Doug Macglashan was hired by the dealership for the day from Southern California to train employees on new software, and he was nearly done before the day suddenly turned deadly.
Macglashan said the suspect wouldn’t leave the premises after he was fired.
“About 10, 15 minutes later, gunshots,” he said. “It’s just scarier than hell. I’m not used to hearing gunshots, I’m not used to being around this type of violence. So it’s just scary.”
“I don’t understand that, it’s a job for crying out loud, go get another one,” Fleming said.
The Ford Store in Morgan Hill released a statement that said in part, “We are devastated by this terrible loss. Thank you to the Morgan Hill community who has come together with us during this tragic event.”