Loop CEO Critically Wounded In Workplace Shooting; Demoted Executive Kills Self
Updated 07/31/14 – 2:07 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – The CEO of a small technology firm in the Loop was critically wounded Thursday morning, when a disgruntled executive shot him in the head and stomach at the company’s office in the heart of the financial district. The gunman then took his own life.
The shooting happened around 9:50 a.m., at ArrowStream, located on the 17th floor of the Bank of America Building at 231 S. LaSalle St., which is right across the street from the Board of Trade and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said the company recently underwent downsizing, and some employees had been demoted last week. One of those employees — who sources identified as 59-year-old Anthony DeFrances — came in Thursday morning and demanded a one-on-one meeting with the CEO, 54-year-old Steven LaVoie of west suburban La Grange.
During that meeting, DeFrances pulled out a gun. He and LaVoie apparently struggled for control of the weapon before LaVoie was shot twice — once in the head, and once in the stomach. DeFrances then took his own life.
“Apparently he was despondent over the fact that he got demoted,” McCarthy said.
The superintendent said the building does have security, but he said there’s no reason they would have searched the employee for a gun.
“He’s apparently a longtime employee, who comes in with a backpack like an employee normally does,” he said. “I can’t see how this could have been a security issue. This is basically a personal thing, and unfortunately it’s turning out this way.”
LaVoie was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Thursday afternoon and underwent surgery.
According to ArrowStream’s website, LaVoie founded the firm in 2000, and earned his master’s degree from Yale, and his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. He has a wife, Jody, and three daughters.
DeFrances was the company’s Chief Technology Officer, and had been with the company “virtually since its inception,” according to an online biography. He received two master’s degrees from the University of Dayton, according to the company’s website. He has a wife, Eileen, and three children.
LaVoie’s family and friends were holding a vigil to pray for his recovery Thursday afternoon.
LaVoie’s family issued a statement through Northwestern Memorial Hospital, thanking staff and doctors there and also responding police “for their ongoing and tireless efforts on behalf of Steven.”
“A horrific personal tragedy has happened today to two families,” it said. “Thank you to our family and friends for your outpouring of love and support. Our thoughts are also with Steven’s extended family, the employees of ArrowStream, who mean so much to Steven. Finally, our prayers are with the other family affected by this tragedy.”
Stefano Freddo, who works for Northern Trust on the 12th floor of the same building, said his company sent out an email after the shooting, telling employees it was not safe to leave, and also announced over its public address system that employees should stay where they were. He said it was 30 to 45 minutes before employees were told the building had been secured and it was safe to leave.
“I was very surprised that actually the situation cleared very fast,” he said. “Again, in like 30 to 45 minutes, everything was clear, and we were able to go back to work.”
Freddo said he doesn’t think anyone can truly prepare themselves for a situation like that.
“I was thinking that I was actually in a movie or something, because it didn’t seem real,” Freddo said. “You go to work one day, and then there’s a shooting. … it’s impossible to forecast it.”
Freddo, who is from Italy, said he called home to tell his family not to worry about him if they heard about the shooting on the news.