“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.