A 200-pound deer crashed through a window into IBM's plant in a rural wooded area of Manassas early yesterday, attracting a small crowd of employes some of whom watched others chase the animal as it tried frantically to escape. The chase -- more like "a big hunt", said one witness -- ended abruptly when an employe armed with a lead pipe smashed the 1 1/2-year-old doe in the head, killing it.
The slaying was "appalling and disgusting," said a bystander who asked not to be named. "I was so upset I wanted to leave."
The deer "was jumping up and down, banging up against the glass trying to get out," he said.
The IBM spokesman said later the deer was slain only after workers concluded that it was so badly injured "the only thing left to do was to put it out of its misery." So, the spokesman said, "it was dispatched."
But the employe who witnessed the incident said the small crowd of workers ariving shortly before 8 a.m. sttood by and encouraged the chase.
As the man who killed the deer emerged from the building, the "bloody lead pipe in his hands," he grinned and boastfully described the killing to bystanders, according to the employe. "I just hit him over the head with the pipe here," the employe quoted the man as saying.
The employe said he believes the deer could have been saved and kept alive if the workers had waited until police arrived.
But police never made it to the scene. And the local state game warden could not be reached, according to the IBM spokesman.
Manassas police officer Nancy Beebe, who is also the department's animal warden, said she could have used her tranquilizer gun to subdue the animal. But, Beebe said, by the time she got to work at 8:30 a.m., she was informed the deer was already dead.
"We were all under the assumption it met a bloody death when it jumped through the plate glass windown," she said, adding the police were not told that a worker killed it with a lead pipe.
"If that did happen, that is terrible," she said.
The slaying apparently did not violate Virginia law. Though hunters are limited to rifles and bows and arrows, there are no similar restrictions for killing deer that barge into a plant or home, said Maj. Gerald Simmons of the Virginia Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries.
"I think the general law of the land," Simmons said, "is that a person has a right to protect his property."
What happened to the deer after it was killed was unclear.
Lenny Koll, the IBM press spokesman, said the company does not have the dead animal, "IBM wouldn't want it," Koll said. "Our policy is that we would not keep it for our gain."
Koll said company officials got it off the grounds as quickly as possible.
"One of our groundskeepers took it away in his pickup truck," Koll said. "I don't have any idea where it was disposed of after that."
Located at 9500 Godwin Dr., the IBM facility houses the company's federal systems division, which employs more than 2,000 people. It consists of a series of single-story buildings that are surrounded by trees. "No Hunting" signs are posted on the grounds, according to Koll.
Koll said the workers acted properly. The animal went berserk, running into a "gaggle of machinery" and pipes inside an empty maintenance room, he said.
When security and maintenance offcials arrived at the room, the spokesman said, they first opened a door and tried to coax the deer to leave. Suddenly, he said, it got trapped between some pipes, broke one of its legs and was covered with blood.
But the IBM employe who witnessed the incident said the dead deer only had blood on its head from the fatat pipe blow. He said he was standing 20 feet away, outside the building, and didn't see the other worker strike the deer.
"I guess it's plausible [that the animal broke its leg]," the worker said, "but the attitude of the people around was they wanted to kill it."
When the deer's body was carried out, the workers put it on the ground, and the bystanders inspected it before it was taken away.
"Someone said 'I'm going to take it away and eat it,'" the worker said.