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Tree trimmer questions company response to Vanceboro shooting

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It's been a week since a man shot three people in Vanceboro, before deputies shot him.

Two of the injured are tree trimmers and now their coworkers are questioning their company's response to the shooting.

Last Tuesday several of them were working along Streets Ferry Road in Vanceboro when the unthinkable happened.

A man, later identified as 82-year-old John Jenkins, started randomly shooting at them. He hit two of them, while several others ran for their life.

The two victims, 41-year-old Brian Lee Holden and 38-year-old Angelo Tavares Williams, are now recovering. But some of their coworkers who dodged bullets that day are still struggling to cope with the traumatic event.

Today 9 On Your Side talked with one of them. He didn't want to go on camera because he's afraid he'll be fired. But he told us he doesn't think the company is doing enough to help those who are still shaken up, even jumpy, on the job.

He says the company promised them counseling, but never provided local health professionals for it. When employees asked if they would get paid for time off from work, he says supervisors dodged their questions.

When 9 On Your Side confronted the on-site supervisor, he refused to answer our questions. So we called his area supervisor, Mike Johnson, who had this to say:  

"Townsend [Tree Trimmers] will take care of them, whether it be time off or whatever else they need, and be there to support them all the way through this," Johnson said.  

But 9 On Your Side wanted more specifics, so we called the corporate office in Indiana.

"All of our employees have access to health benefits under basic workers' compensation laws in the state in which they work," said John Roselle, the director of marketing and business development. "And in many cases, those laws do provide treatment for crisis and traumatic event counseling."

Roselle also said employees have access to full paid leave benefits, which can provide for paid time off following a workplace event.

"Our first and foremost priority with our employees is to make sure that they are taken care of and that they get the best care possible," Roselle said.

Roselle added employees can arrange to see a counselor for free, they just have to notify their supervisors or the Human Relations Department.

Whether the employees will, in fact, get paid for days they took off last week remains to be seen. They get their paychecks on Wednesday.

9 On Your Side will keep you posted.


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