A disgruntled casino visitor, having just shot and mortally wounded a worker at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, planned to kill himself in a parking garage but was stopped by police, a casino executive said.
Mark Juliano, CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, which runs the casino, said Thursday the shooter had no previous beef with supervisor Raymond Kot, who had been with the Taj Mahal since it opened in 1990.
A Philadelphia television station, however, said the man accused of the shooting sent it a letter dated two days before Wednesday's killing in which he accused casinos of cheating for 20 years. WPVI-TV reported the letter it received from Norristown, Pa., resident Mark Magee didn't contain any threats.
Juliano told The Associated Press that Magee was carrying a suicide note and had intended to shoot himself or jump from the parking garage Wednesday afternoon but surrendered meekly when police apprehended him.
"It's too bad he didn't do it first," Juliano said. "He was obviously an extremely disturbed, sick individual."
The contents of the suicide note weren't revealed by authorities, and WPVI said it wouldn't publish its entire letter, which didn't mention Kot.
Juliano said Magee had been a patron of the Taj Mahal for several years and had interacted with Kot numerous times but never in a contentious way. He said the choice of Kot as a victim appeared random.
"It appears to have been something he contemplated doing, not particularly to Ray, but to a casino employee in general," Juliano said.
But why? Juliano is asking himself that question, along with many others. There were no initial indications Magee, 57, was in debt to the casino or had any bad experiences there, he added.
Juliano said it's ironic that Kot, who played the peacemaker countless times with rowdy or disruptive customers, died so violently, shot three or four times in the abdomen with bullets designed to inflict maximum damage.
"Ray Kot was one of the finest people you'll ever meet," he said. "He was always looking to be the peacemaker all the time. He had such a calm, gentle demeanor that anytime there was a situation that needed defusing or calming down, Ray was the guy who would do it. He always knew how to handle it the right way. This is just so tragic. It's unreal."
Kot was shot in an office just off the casino floor, an area not visible to patrons. He died about 2 1/2 hours later at a medical center after undergoing surgery.
Court documents charged Magee with using hollow-point bullets, which are illegal in New Jersey.
Magee, wearing jail clothes, made a brief initial appearance Thursday afternoon in state Superior Court in Mays Landing. Looking slightly dazed, his gray hair tousled, he said he understood the murder and weapons charges against him. He asked for a public defender, saying he couldn't afford to hire a lawyer.
A judge ordered him held on bail of more than $1 million.
The state attorney general's office said Thursday that Kot was 57 years old, not 55 as court documents filed overnight read.
Donald Trump, who is no longer associated with the gambling company he used to run, said fellow workers respected and looked up to Kot.
"He was a wonderful, loyal person who worked for me for a long time," the real estate tycoon and "Celebrity Apprentice" TV star told the AP on Thursday. "He was somebody the other employees liked very much. He was a very solid citizen."
Source: AP Features