Sta­tis­tics show in­crease in fa­tal work­place shoot­ings

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY LAU­RIE KELLMAN

Fa­tal work­place shoot­ings, like the one Mon­day in Or­lando, Florida, are tick­ing up­ward in the United States, gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics show.

Re­venge against an em­ployer, ro­man­tic part­ner or co­work­ers of­ten is the mo­tive, ex­perts say. Re­ports of work­place vi­o­lence are quick to spread across so­cial me­dia.

“It re­ally all boils down pretty much to the same is­sues: A per­son wants to feel that they have more control, they want to have more power,” said threat as­sess­ment ex­pert Michael Cor­co­ran. “What are see­ing when this hap­pens is it gets played up more, so they say, ‘Ah OK, that’s an al­ter­na­tive.’”

What has changed in re­cent years is the will­ing­ness of em­ploy­ers to set up sys­tems to mon­i­tor peo­ple who might be threats, ex­perts said.

A lone gun­man on Mon­day re­turned with a semi-au­to­matic pis­tol to the Or­lando awning fac­tory where he was fired in April and me­thod­i­cally killed five peo­ple, then him­self, Orange County Sher­iff Jerry Dem­ings said.

Sher­iff Dem­ings iden­ti­fied the shooter as John Robert Neu­mann Jr., a 45-year-old Army veteran.

Au­thor­i­ties had con­fronted him once be­fore at the Fi­amma Inc. awning fac­tory, when he was ac­cused of bat­ter­ing a co­worker in June 2014. But af­ter in­ter­view­ing both men in­volved, deputies filed no charges, Sher­iff Dem­ings said. That co-worker was not among Mon­day’s vic­tims, he said.

The most re­cent records by the Bureau of La­bor Sta­tis­tics say work­place homi­cides rose by 2 per­cent to 417 cases in 2015, with shoot­ings in­creas­ing by 15 per­cent. The 354 shoot­ings in 2015 rep­re­sent the first in­crease since 2012.

Iden­ti­fy­ing peo­ple with “con­cern­ing be­hav­ior” is key for vir­tu­ally any com­pany, ex­perts said. That means set­ting up an “in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary threat as­sess­ment team” of com­pany man­agers and, some­times, lo­cal law en­force­ment, to look at and per­haps track work­ers who were ter­mi­nated or sus­pended, said Matthew W. Do­herty, se­nior vice pres­i­dent for threat and vi­o­lence risk man­age­ment at Hil­lard Heintze.

“Any­body that em­ploys any­body in the U.S. should have one,” said Mr. Do­herty, a re­tired spe­cial agent who was in charge of the Se­cret Service’s Threat As­sess­ment Cen­ter.

He noted that Aaron Alexis, killed in a gun­fight with po­lice af­ter he had killed 12 peo­ple at Wash­ing­ton Navy Yard in 2013, was well known for his bizarre be­hav­ior. Sev­eral of the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and sur­vivors filed mil­lions of dol­lars in law­suits against the com­pa­nies over­see­ing Alexis’ work. The law­suits al­lege that the com­pa­nies were aware of Alexis’ trou­bling be­hav­ior, in­clud­ing that he heard voices, be­lieved he had a chip im­planted in his head and thought peo­ple were fol­low­ing him.

“He was of con­cern to al­most ev­ery­one in the work­place,” Mr. Do­herty said. Of Mon­day’s shoot­ing at Fi­amma Inc., he said: “I’d be very cu­ri­ous in this case if they fol­lowed se­cu­rity in­dus­try best prac­tices for mon­i­tor­ing this per­son’s be­hav­ior.” There’s a change in some quar­ters on how to re­act. “‘See some­thing, say some­thing’ is kind of tire­some,” said ac­tive shooter preven­tion ex­pert and au­thor Chris Groll­nek. “You see out-of-or­di­nary be­hav­ior, make a quick note. And if you’re in a bad sit­u­a­tion, it’s get up, get out. There is no more hid­ing un­der a desk.”


Orange County Sher­iff Jerry Dem­ings (cen­ter) ad­dresses the me­dia af­ter a shoot­ing in Or­lando on Mon­day. Fa­tal work­place shoot­ings are tick­ing up­ward, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics. Ex­perts say that re­venge is of­ten the mo­tive of the at­tack­ers.

Au­thor­i­ties search the mo­bile home of John Robert Neu­mann Jr. on Mon­day. Neu­mann shot and killed five peo­ple.


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