updated 2/21/2005 5:03:19 PM ET 2005-02-21T22:03:19

An employee opened fire Monday at the Northrop Grumman Ships Systems shipyard, critically wounding two co-workers, police said.

The alleged shooter, Alexander L. Lett, 41, of Escatawpa, was been charged with two counts of aggravated assault and was being held without bond at the Pascagoula Municipal Jail.

Authorities said Lett had refused to speak with them, and they declined to discuss his motives.

“We have no reason (for the shooting) ... only speculation, and I don’t care to go there right now,” police Lt. Paul Leonard said.

Investigators identified the two wounded employees as Ben Gaffney, 63, and Donald Eddins, 53. A hospital spokesman said they were in critical condition after surgery.

After the shooting, Lett tried to leave the building at the large complex that builds ships for the Navy and the Coast Guard but was stopped by other Northrop Grumman employees, police said.

Lett was a quality assurance inspector who had been at the shipyard for more than 20 years, and the wounded men were also longtime company employees, Leonard said. Officials said both were believed to be managers.

A 9 mm semiautomatic pistol was used in the shooting, Leonard said. He had no details on how it was brought into the building.

Northrop Grumman officials said security had been increased, and employees in the quality assurance department were given the option of going home for the day and offered counseling.

In a statement, Northrop Grumman said company officials were “in close contact with the employees’ families for support and assistance” but offered no additional details on the shooting.

An initial court appearance for Lett is pending.

Northrop Grumman Ship Systems is Mississippi’s largest private employer, with more than 12,000 workers.

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