“An employee at a New Jersey supermarket [Pathmark in Old Bridge] shot two coworkers and then killed himself inside the store early Friday morning,” wsj.com reports. “The shooter, described by relatives as a former Marine who loved video games, left work around 3:30 a.m. and returned a half-hour later carrying an AK-47, multiple ammunition magazines and a handgun. [Terence Tyler] fired at least 16 shots before killing himself.” So, another workplace shooting . . .

harkening back to Jeffrey Johnson’s heinous attack on his boss Steve Ercolino. Another common denominator: both attacks occurred in gun free (at least for law-abiding citizens) zones. New York City and New Jersey in general and Pathmark (for its employees in specific).

Let me explain why that’s important . . .

Keep in mind that these killings do not indicate an “epidemic” of workplace violence that requires some kind of legislative action. [Note to NY and NJ politicians: don’t just do something stand there.] STRATFOR puts the problem into perspective:

On average, there are around 500 workplace homicides per year in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2010, the latest year for which statistics are available, there were 518 workplace homicides, and only 12 percent were conducted by a co-worker or former co-worker. This means that while workplace violence incidents tend to get a lot of media attention — even more so when an incident occurs near the Empire State Building, like the Johnson incident — they are not common.

Still, while not all that common, incidents of workplace violence are serious. They are also, in most cases, preventable.

Despite the mythology surrounding these types of murders—workplace killers are average Joes who can’t stand the pressures of their job and simply “snap” and “go postal”—there’s usually some kind of warning behavior before an employee shoots up his boss or colleagues.

In the case of Jeffrey Johnson, Ercolino had gone to the trouble of filing a police complaint against his employee. Their conflict had been simmering for weeks, if not months. In today’s shooting, Tyler was initially described as “clean-cut” and meek. nj.com reports that another portrait is emerging.

“The way he looked at me, that gave me a very bad feeling,” said Miranda Miranda, 19, a worker at the Pathmark originally scheduled for a shift this morning. “He gave me an uneasy vibe.”

What’s the bet Tyler had run-ins with management or co-workers at the supermarket? Miranda X2’s uneasiness indicates that she knew a bad moon was rising.

The most indicative signs of impending violence are talk about suicide or the expression of actual or veiled threats. If co-workers or supervisors feel afraid of a person, even when the reason for that fear cannot be clearly articulated, that is also a significant warning sign (and has been noted in several past incidents). Another indication is when an employee suddenly begins carrying a gun to work and shows it to co-workers.

Yeah, that’s a pretty good sign right there. The question isn’t really “why didn’t they notice?” It’s “what the hell could they do about it?” STRATFOR focuses on a key point: company security can’t—or won’t—do squat.

One dangerous perception common in many companies is that workplace violence is the corporate security department’s problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most corporate security departments are bare-bones operations, and they are quite often among the first departments to be cut when companies face tough economic times. Most corporate security departments focus on physical security, loss prevention and theft of company property. With their limited staff and large responsibilities, they have very little ability to learn what is going on with the angry guy sitting in that middle cubicle on the third floor.

Even in companies with dedicated executive protection teams charged with covering senior company officials, those teams are largely focused on the outside threat. They pay far more attention to protecting the CEO during a trip to Mexico or India than during a walk through the company cafeteria. Senior company executives also often seem to believe there is no internal threat — not in their company — but this is clearly not the case.

Senior schmenior. The same non-proactive security stance applies at the bottom of the corporate food chain. And while STRATFOR correctly states that situational awareness is every employee’s job, ultimately, so what? Corporate grievance procedures can make things worse. When push comes to shove, as it sometimes does, it’s nothing more or less than a fight for survival.

Check this from nydailynews.com:

Defenseless Cristina Lobrutto, 18, of Old Bridge, N.J., and her friend Bryan Breen, 24, of Laurence Harbor, N.J., were killed, while a dozen colleagues escaped the carnage unharmed. A store manager reportedly steered most of the survivors to safety through a back door before Tyler committed suicide.

Key word: “defenseless.” Yes, I’m saying it: wouldn’t it have been better if someone at Pathmark had been armed?

It’s an idea that gives antis apoplexy.

Aside from the imaginary prospect of collateral damage (if the trained cops shoot innocent bystanders what would a civilian do?) anti-gunners consider the risk of an employee with a gun going postal greater than the [potential] benefit of an employee with a gun saving someone’s life by using a firearm to take out or intimidate a bad guy.

This despite the fact that employees go postal anyway. And the colleagues and bosses who aren’t unstable, people who could stop the killer, are unarmed. By store policy and city and state law.

If the prospect of a life-or-death shootout between civilians is too ridiculous for a gun control advocate to understand, they should at least answer a simple question: do workplace killers know that they work in a gun-free zone?

Would a workplace killer be as likely to go on a murderous rampage (or commit an assassination) if they knew they faced armed resistance?

Gun rights are an individual right. Thanks to our Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms we have a choice whether or not to defend our lives and the lives of other innocents with a firearm. Except when we don’t. And then . . . this.

Surprised? Don’t be.

22 Responses to NJ Workplace Shooting: Another Day in Gun-Free Paradise

  1. He must have been totally drugged out. I hope this doesn’t sound callous, but a ex-Marine firing 16 shots at close range, with a rifle, and killing “only” two people. He must have been barely conscious. Thank G-d it wasn’t worse.

    • maybe that’s why he was an x marine. couldn’t shoot worth a damn. i wonder what kind of discharge this x marine got?

    • More likely, those two people did something that *really* pissed him off.. Could’ve done much more damage.

    • No I get it. It is a tragedy, but yeah your point is taken.
      At least it wasn’t worse than it was. And he did the state a favor by being his own executioner.

  2. “Why do you carry a gun ST” says the pretty liberal girl im talking to.

    In response, my mind thinks of TTAG posts like these.

  3. Dang, irrelevant digs at soldiers and video games in one sentence. This “journalist” has his agenda and knee-jerk-driven propaganda instincts on full drive. He does his profession proud.

    • Many adult women ie women journalists in this case (By ALISON FOX, LISA FLEISHER and PERVAIZ SHALLWAN) are obsessed with imaging and poking fun at all unmarried men doing nothing with their lives and free-time but playing video games. We’re lucky not to have read that men should all ‘man-up’ and get married which would keep them out of trouble…

  4. Thanks Robert, for a good lead in and story analysis. Living here in the Peoples Democratic Republic of NJ, there are a few things to add to this story:

    -Yes, AK-47’s are still illegal, and other knock offs with the scary “pre-ban” features, along with mags bigger then 15 rnds. Saiga’s are not though. Unclear still as to the exact weapon he had, though it was even reported early on as a shotgun of some kind.

    -News here also reported that the perp was wearing “body armor”, which is also already illegal in NJ while in the commision of a felony. Still no word on if it was actually Armor or just a tac/hunting vest.

    -News also reported that an “automatic pistol” was present, though I suspect journalistic ignorance on that one. Likely meant SEMI-auto.

    -Carry by non-LE folks is pretty much non-existant here. Some security/armored car types but those are almost always off-duty cops as well. You have a better chance of seeing Christ at your Super Bowl party (live, not in your mirror after too many drinks), then you do of getting a carry permit of any kind. And even if you did, our Use of Force statutes are VERY draconian and Prosecutors are hardcore anti-gun…….no Zimmermans here.

    So far, there hasn’t been any real follow-up on the political sense, but they are stirring the pot with the usual vigils etc……..including just enough scary rhetoric to set the stage for later.

    Oh, and the whisper campaign against Veterans with “PTSD” on meds, which according to most folks around here we all have and are on, is already stirring as well. Be on the look out for that one to rear it’s ugly head soon.

    Funny how concerned a Govt gets when it realizes it just created a HUGE cadre of folks who know how to fight Insurgency’s, right in the middle of their attempts to solidify power.

  5. Yeah, these “no guns” policies at work places are a sick joke. What do people imagine will happen? The guy with plans of murder and possibly also suicide in his head will reconsider when he realizes he can be fired if he brings a gun to work?

  6. What are the executives thinking when they make a “no guns” policy for workers at a business? Here’s my best guess:
    (1) If an employee were allowed to carry a gun, they might negligently discharge it which is dangerous.
    (2) If an employee were allowed to carry a gun, they might get upset with a coworker and then whip out their readily available gun and shoot the coworker.
    (3) The business is worried that they will have financial liability in a lawsuit if points number 1 or 2 above happen.
    (4) The business is worried that they will have financial liability in a lawsuit if an outside criminal attacks the business, an armed employee defends themselves and/or coworkers, and an employee or business patron is injured.
    (5) The executives might just hate guns and use their authority to force their position on all the employees.

    I can see point number 1 to some extent. I think number 2 is bogus. (If a person is upset and determined to shoot someone, it will happen whether or not they have a gun on their hip.) Number 3 and 4 put profits ahead of people’s rights and safety … and any victims will sue the business regardless of any firearm policies anyway. In my mind people’s rights and safety are very important — more important than any tiny financial risk of a lawsuit should something go wrong — something that liability insurance would cover anyway. So I believe “gun free” policies are wrong.

    If the executives are so worried about safety, then mandate safety policies for employees that want to be armed:
    (1) Safety training such as the NRA Basic Personal Protection In The Home Course … maybe offer to split the cost of the course 50/50 with the employee.
    (2) Handguns must be carried concealed and in holsters that cover the triggers AT ALL TIMES. This eliminates the possibility of negligent discharges.
    (3) Require conflict management/resolution in the workplace training.

    None of these three items would be expensive or expose the business to excessive risk. In fact it would lower the business’ risk exposure in several ways. And it would improve employee morale.

  7. We hear much about companies with no-gun in the workplace policies but are there any out there that officially permit employees to carry (besides security firms)? I’m been doing some work for an engineering/arch firm that often sends employees into remote locations for environmental studies. They actually have a policy that allows the employee to be armed in the field (with a LOT of legal caviots of course). But weapons in the office is a strict no-no. Are there any companies that allow employees to carry? If it were my company the policy would look something like: “XYZ company recognizes its employees’ constitutionally protected 2nd amendment rights and encourages the responsible exercise of those rights. However any irresponsible actions on the job with a weapon (ND, brandishing, etc. ) may result in the immediate termination of the employee. Employees are fully responsible for maintaining control of their weapons and for any use or misuse of their weapons. XYZ company assumes no liability for any consequence of any employee’s weapons incidents.”

  8. If someone at the Pathmark had been armed, the results probably would have been exactly the same. It happened too fast for any intervention to have helped. So your entire post, from the title to that silly remark that it would have made a difference is nonsense.

  9. I went to the link and read the news article, and I am sad for the families that lost loved ones, a thing like this is always terrible to them. But I am also sad that at 23 years of age, and having served a stint in the Marines, and all anyone has to say about the shooter was his talent at video games???….. Apparently that was his sole accomplishment in life? No mention of a church or any community organizations he belonged to or participated in, no mention of achievements in school, nothing but that he sure could play video. That says a lot about what his life was like and what his family didn’t teach or prepare him for. Since the minimum enlistment in the Marines is 3 years, and this guy served less than that, it is possible the Marines saw a problem and let him go as well.

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