Police having to respond to more disgruntled employees calls

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An employee entered a Walmart store in Southaven, Mississippi and opened fire, killing two people and wounding a police officer before being shot by another responding officer on July 26, 2019. Luckily the officer was saved by his bulletproof vest.

Two dead, officer wounded in Mississippi Walmart workplace shooting

DEADLY WALMART SHOOTING: Authorities are investigating a workplace shooting at a Mississippi Walmart that left two dead and an officer wounded but saved by his bulletproof vest, as authorities identify the suspect as an employee. Steve Osunsami reports. https://abcn.ws/2SPujKI

Posted by ABC World News Tonight with David Muir on Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The gunman was a disgruntled employee who, according to news reports, had recently been suspended for behavior issues. The two victims in the store were both managers. The wounded gunman is in custody for murder after treatment for gunshot wounds.

More and more it seems the workplace is a dangerous place to be, especially when it comes to employee-on-employee shootings.

On Tuesday, July 17, 2019, a disgruntled employee shot and wounded five people at Best Moves in San Antonio, Texas, before being arrested fleeing the area by responding officers.

On June 26, 2019, an employee who had just been fired from a Ford dealership in Morgan Hill, California,  shot and killed two fellow employees before killing himself.

Morgan Hill Shooting Latest

MORGAN HILL SHOOTING: Police say the gunman in last night's shooting at the Ford dealership in Morgan Hill did not have a prior criminal record. Here's what we know: https://bit.ly/31XZE2f

Posted by KRON 4 News on Wednesday, June 26, 2019

On May 31, 2019, a disgruntled municipal employee from Virginia Beach, Virginia entered the civic center and fatally shot 12 people and wounded four others before being shot and killed by responding police officers who were close by.

At least 11 dead in Virginia Beach mass shooting at municipal center

At least 11 people were killed after a gunman opened fire at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Virginia, police chief James Cervera told reporters Friday night. https://cnn.it/2WejUxm

Posted by Erin Burnett OutFront on Friday, May 31, 2019

On February 15, 2019, a former employee came into the Henry Pratt company in Aurora, Illinois, and shot and killed five people before being killed in an exchange of gunfire with responding officers. Five police officers were wounded during the 90-minute gunfight with the suspect. The victims included the human resources manager and a college intern who was on his first day on the job. The suspect was eventually killed by police officers.

Aurora Police issue update on shooting

Aurora police detail Friday's shooting that left five dead, five officers injured. The gunman was also killed.Latest on the story: http://via.wgntv.com/ITStx

Posted by WGN TV on Friday, February 15, 2019

The number of people who get shot by former or disgruntled employees is in the hundreds every year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 458 homicides in the work place in 2017. These numbers don’t address the number of people who are shot, assaulted, or knifed who don’t die.

Getting accurate numbers on how many homicides and assaults are perpetrated by disgruntled employees is difficult. The reporting is haphazard and inconsistent.

Workplace shootings by disgruntled employees are rare given the number of shootings overall that occur every day across the country. But just like in our home, they occur in an area where most of us expect to feel safe. We just don’t know when or where they can happen and that’s scary.

What we do know is police officers often get called to stand by when employers are concerned about possible violence during employee terminations. Thankfully there is no violence on the majority of these calls.

When violence does occur, as in each of the situations above, police officers responded quickly and heroically. Years of active shooter training has prepared agencies to respond to these types of calls.

Prevention is really difficult because there is no one profile that would make it easy to identify the person who might act out through violence in the workplace. This makes it hard to assess and prevent these kinds of shootings.

What can an employer or employee do? Here are some of the recommendations:

  • Screen employees, including backgrounds, previous work history, and criminal history inquiries.
  • Have established zero tolerance for employee threats and violence.
  • Instruct employees to “see something, say something” and educate them on warning signs.
  • Have secure work areas restricting outside access.
  • Just as schools and colleges do, implement “active shooter” drills as part of training.

Joe Vargas is a retired police captain. You can reach him at jvargas@behindthebadgeoc.com.