SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

August 26, 2013

Gunman, boss in Fla. shooting were once close

(Continued)

Allen killed himself at his nearby home.

It was clear to everyone in town that Allen and Pritchett had a good relationship at one point. “You had the assumption, no, the conviction, that they were close,” Maxwell said.

Pritchett grew up in Union County and was constantly involved in businesses, from gas stations to truck companies to his beloved farm, Rolling Oaks. Residents said he was known around town as Mr. P, a generous man who gave to charitable groups and projects and treated his employees well.

“He arrived at work before anyone else. He was always there for his employees,” Bill Thomas, who worked as a dispatcher for Pritchett for several years, said outside Pritchett’s longtime church, First Christian. As Thomas spoke, the church bell, which can be heard across town, rang.

“He was instrumental in that, too,” he said, explaining that Pritchett helped finance the new bell.

The church prepared for a prayer service yesterday evening. The Rev. Art Peterson said he met with Pritchett’s family and counseled them.

“It’s rough. They’re still in a state of shock, but they’re coping,” he said.

Thomas, who left the trucking company six years ago, said he used to see Allen around often, overseeing Pritchett’s farm.

“He was always Mr. P.’s right-hand man,” Thomas said. But it had been several years since he had seen Allen, he said.

Residents and officials said Allen was a longtime employee of the trucking company. Yesterday, flags flew at half-staff at the company’s headquarters. The trucking company’s website said it employs 400 people and owns hundreds of vehicles that operate around the country.

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