Injection molder Plastic Industries Inc. will continue to operate in the wake of the shooting death of owner Jeff Beene.
Beene, 58, died Jan. 31 after being wounded the previous day while trying to apprehend a burglar at one of his firm's two buildings in Athens, Tenn. Beene had contacted police shortly after midnight on Jan. 30 and said he was holding a burglar at gunpoint inside the building, which was being renovated and was not in use. When police arrived, they found the owner at the site, lying on the floor with a gunshot wound.
Beene was flown by helicopter to an Erlanger Health System hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he later died.
Police and K-9 units searched the building and surrounding area but did not locate the burglar. Beene was involved in a similar incident at the site last month, when he held a burglar at gunpoint until police arrived.
Officials with Plastic Industries could not be reached for comment, and the company was closed for business Feb. 5. Chief Financial Officer Todd Harris told the Athens Daily Post Athenian newspaper Feb. 2 that the company ``is going to continue to operate as [Beene] would want it, and that is as a family operation.''
Capt. Frank Horning of the Athens Police Department said the incident is being investigated by his department and by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Weapons were recovered at the site, but police believe they belonged to Beene and were not used in the shooting, Horning said in a Feb. 2 phone interview.
Officials confirmed Feb. 5 that a preliminary autopsy report revealed Beene had been shot once in the head and had no other injuries.
The building where the shooting occurred is being gutted and has several open doors and windows. Plastic and metal pipe was stored inside, as well as tools and wiring, Horning said. Although the building is near other businesses off of a nearby highway, those businesses were closed at the time of the shooting. Nothing of value was reported missing from the site after the shooting.
No arrests have been made in the case, but Horning said his department ``is getting leads every day.''
Horning had met Beene several times over the years in Athens, a town of about 14,000 residents located between Chattanooga and Knoxville.
``Everybody knew Jeff,'' Horning said. ``He was a very good community man and was involved throughout the area.''
Beene had run the company since 1980, nine years after his father Jones Beene III and a company employee died in the crash of a private plane. Jeff Beene's sons, Jeff Jr. and Jones, also work for the company.
Plastic Industries injection molds parts for numerous industries including furniture, pools and home and garden. The firm also does work in structural foam molding, vacuum forming and dielectric sealing.
The company claims it was the first U.S. firm to produce plastic furniture legs and plastic saddle trees used to make horse saddles, according to the firm's Web site.