It is no secret that workplace shootings have ravaged the United States for more than 100 years. As reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2017, fatal workplace shootings are increasing at a rapid rate. Many experts believe that revenge is often the motive for such workplace violence. Furthermore, most assailants who are employees commit workplace shootings due to being fired, mental illness, drug abuse, or perceived personal shortcomings.
One of the earliest workplace shootings was on July 12, 1976, 37-year-old Edward Charles Allaway armed with a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle killed seven people and injured two others in the library of California State University. Edward Allaway was the library custodian for California State University and suffered from a history of violence and mental illness.
After the shooting, Allaway fled school campus and went to a hotel in Anaheim where he called authorities and confessed to his crime. Allaway was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic after being convicted by a jury. The judge then found Allaway to be insane and sentenced to Patton State Hospital where he received medical treatment. This was documented as the worst mass shooting in Fullerton, California until the Seal Beach shooting on October 12, 2011.
6 Surprising Acts of Workplace Shootings in 2017
The threat of workplace shootings is real. Moreover, these statistics validate the reality that violence in the workplace is often a deadly incident that can happen to any business. Since 2006, USA TODAY has tracked a total of 358 mass killings and counting that have claimed the lives of over 1,883 people. The cases include shootings, stabbings, fires, and other various attacks in 45 states and the District of Columbia.
- January 21, 2017 – An unnamed assailant entered a jewelry store in Henderson, Nevada, brandishing a firearm. The store security guard fired his weapon and missed the assailant, hitting the store employee. The employee later died in the hospital. The suspect is still at large.
- April 10, 2017 – Cedric Anderson, 53, walked into his estranged wife’s special education classroom in San Bernadino, California, and opened fire, killing his estranged wife and one of her students. Another student was injured. Anderson committed suicide before police arrived. Police speculate that the students that were hit were merely innocent bystanders.
- April 25, 2017 – Matthew Kempf, 60, went to his workplace and shot and killed his supervisor. Kempf later committed suicide.
- May 13, 2017 – Thomas Hartless, 43, entered an Ohio nursing home and took two hostages, who were staff members. Hartless later killed the two hostages and a police chief responding to the active shooter call. The gunman then committed suicide. The residents were not among the injured.
- June 5, 2017 – John Robert Neumann Jr., 45, proceeded to shoot five people in his former workplace in Orlando; one survived. Neumann had been fired from his job in April. He committed suicide before police arrived.
- October 2, 2017 – Stephen Paddock, 64, killed 59 people and injured another 527 early Monday in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Paddock opened fire on thousands attending a Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas.
How do you Handle Workplace Shootings Appropriately?
Proper planning and training can reduce injuries related to workplace shootings. Controlling the impact of an active shooter involves many layers of security. Those layers can consist of an incident response plan, a panic button system, security staff, and surveillance cameras.
The first step is to know what to do in those critical moments. The first minute of an active shooter incident is the most important moment of your companies emergency response. Training and being mentally prepared to take action in a crisis can make a big difference. Furthermore, just knowing where all of the building exits and locking doors are located can help boost a person’s survival.
Moreover, there is no foolproof way to avert workplace shootings. However, with the speed and accuracy of information given in the initiated alert can contribute to impact a positive result. Additionally, there is new technology available that enables mass notification to those who need to know about the crisis to increase the probability of a successful emergency response.
In conclusion, I encourage you and your staff to become familiar with the violence prevention and incident response plans for your facility. An essential part of violence prevention is to utilize those policy resources when you feel it is necessary. Report unusual or suspicious behavior to administrators immediately. Moreover, trust that “uh-oh” feeling when things just don’t seem legit. Practice incident response plans at least quarterly so that the training remains fresh. If employees have clear policies and procedures to follow during a crisis, they can protect themselves more efficiently. Hundreds people’s lives are lost every year to workplace shootings. Arm your employees with the tools and knowledge they need to make an appropriate decision.
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