According to abcnews.go.com, “After a ‘disgruntled’ ex-employee returned to his former workplace near Orlando, Florida, shooting and killing five people, the company said it is ‘heartbroken,’ calling the attack ‘unspeakable.'” The question is: was it unpredictable? Did anyone at the company have an inkling that John Robert Neumann Jr. (always with the middle names!) was going to go postal? And if they did, did anyone consider carrying a gun? Were they even “allowed” to do so? Anyway . . .

In my forty year work career, I’ve rubbed shoulders with some decidedly odd people. Some unsettlingly so. There was one guy at CNN we called “clock tower boy.” As far as I know, he never went postal. But if none of his colleagues would have been particularly surprised. What surprises me: nobody did anything about it. Different days. Well, for me, anyway.

Have you worked with someone who pinged your self-defense radar? Did you do anything about it, whether that meant/means carrying a gun at work of informing the boss?

60 Responses to CapArms Question of the Day: Have You Ever Worried About A Co-Worker Going Postal?

  1. Yes, on a couple occasions at various places. Only once said something because the guy was super angry and loud about the things he was angry about.

    The other times you just buy a Snickers, write your name on it, and leave it on their desk…as a gesture.

    Usually though, volcanoes that regularly erupt, don’t ever deliver the “big one”, it’s the ones and keep it in for a while that tend to have the big explosion.

    • “The other times you just buy a Snickers, write your name on it, and leave it on their desk…as a gesture.”

      H’mm.

      If they are truly unhinged, they may not eat that Snickers thinking someone (like you) did something to it.

      (Paranoia, will destroy ya…)

      Then again, it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

  2. Yeah…but I haven’t been an employee in some 24 years. Way back when in the 1970’s I worked in a factory where an idiot pulled a gun out because several of us were making fun of him. No one said anything(snitch thing) but looking back he should have been fired and arrested. Been around some other employee crazies but never felt particularly threatened…I’ll never know.

  3. Just a thought, do disgruntled ex-employees go postal in other countries? I’m not focusing on the tool used but the act of returning to one’s former place of work with a knife/baseball bat/cricket bat/pointy stick and attacking Marla from HR?

    Perhaps these things do occur but we never hear about them. If not, what makes the US workplace so bad that people go crazy? My guess would be there’s an element of ‘live to work’ here rather than ‘work to live’, and perhaps the pressures heaped upon the average Joe just make life harder to deal with. I seem to have more questions than answers!!

  4. Yes, always carried regardless of the company rules. As did some of my supervisors. I could get another job. Getting another life is a different story. Retired now, same rules. ALWAYS armed to include home carry.

    I see some of the big name trainers are saying carry a gun. But it’s not legal….carry a gun. Terrorism and violence isn’t getting better anytime soon.

    Carry a gun.

  5. yes….he got more and more withdrawn…I knew his personal life was spinning out of control (wife cheating on him/divorce, son came “out of the closet”, financial problems from divorce). I spoke to my boss who was no help. My coworkers and I always kept an eye on him, and although carrying at work was not permitted, I carried (off body as I had no choice).

  6. A few years back I was the Safety Manager for a small trucking company. I carried my SR9c every day, with the permission of the owner, because truckers can be an unpredictable bunch. (And he owed a lot of unhappy people a lot of money due to a bankruptcy.)

    We did a sympathetic hire of an old guy whose smaller truck company was closed down due to DOT violations and was trying to keep himself afloat long enough to get one or two of the derelict trucks in his yard back in service.

    I had purchased a used diesel engine for $4k for the same reason, as I had a truck in our yard that only needed an engine to get back on the road, but I was persuaded to let him put the engine in one of his trucks because he more desperately needed the income. In the meantime he would pay me the $4k I had spent once the truck was on the road. Bottom line, none of those things happened. He took the engine, put it in his truck and left it exposed to the weather when his cut-rate mechanic couldn’t get it to run, which destroyed it completely. Rather than admit to the error and commit to repay me he swore that no such agreement had ever been made and since I had no documentary proof I had no means to sue him, even if he had any money to pay, which he didn’t. He never came back to work with us.

    Some weeks later after some acrimonious e-mails, he walked in the front door of the office and placed his briefcase on the counter. I knew, we all knew, that he routinely carried a silver Colt Python in that case, as he was quite proud of it. I must admit that I was at level RED the entire time he stood at that counter, but he ignored me completely, conducted some discussions with the boss, then turned around and left. We never saw him again. I must admit that I was ABSOLUTELY ready to draw on him had he made a move to open that briefcase.

    • I would have asked to see the python, then not give it back. Even trade these days with colt snakes commanding a not so small fortune. Then you got all the guns and tell him to get the hell out.

      • Yeah, but unless I already had my pistol out and aimed, which I did not, I don’t think asking him to open that case and hand over the Python would have had a pretty outcome for either of us.

  7. We started carrying firearms in our workplace because of this.

    One of our guys had a defect in mental status (BIG TIME), turned from Joe Blow into secret spy out for revenge.
    Told us he was making special bullets for his guns that could be MOA accurate for miles, received satellite information from friends with encrypted information, held up in his basement with all his firearms spread out, pissing in jars and eating moldy food, told us he watched and planned our daily lives and could kill us on our way home from work with his “sniper rifle” or set explosives in our vehicle.

    We were pretty sure he was toast.

    We informed local state police about our concerns for everyone’s safety, know what they told us?

    “Unless he does harm to himself or others, he’s within his rights and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

    Welp, time to cowboy up I guess, been daily carrying since. The guy is still in the area and has no contact with us, 20 years with the company, long friendships, gone.

    That’s why I hate hearing people say after an incident happens “if we could have somehow prevented this?!?”
    Well, sometimes the writing is on the wall.

    Sandy hook? His parents hid the fact he needed help by coddling him.

    Sometimes crazy is spur of the moment, sometimes it isn’t!

  8. I keep finding myself saying the same thing after something like this happens. “Won’t let that happen. Not my workplace/classroom/bus etc.” I say we start our own social media campaign with the hashtag #notmy_____.
    So in this case, it would be #notmyworkplace. I think it’d be a great way to get it out there that armed defenders are ready and willing to defend those around them and that it’s vital that we be legally allowed to carry.

  9. Fortunately my company put little “no weapons allowed” stickers on every door. Which will cause any disgruntled employee intent on causing harm to turn around and leave, because hey, they can’t have a weapon. Just in case they had us all watch the run, hide, fight and did a session on mass shooting. So if the stickers don’t work, we can run away or perhaps throw some fire extinguishers at him. And they can remotely disable his access so once he gets to a floor he will have to be content killing those hundred people who are hiding and stuck there. Whew, glad we are safe and don’t have to worry!

    • Dang! You had the same training I did! I love the throwing the fire extinguisher at the terrorist. That works every time! Such Corporate Bravo Sierra! Then we have our Security Monitors, unarmed of course. There to tell you that “There is a security “Issue” please run and hide … follow me!”

  10. My first job was in a giant warehouse staffed nearly exclusively by alcoholics and felons. The thought crossed my mind more than once when I’d see security escort one off the property.

    What a sad bullshit existence to throw everything away over such a crummy wage slave job. Did this awning shop pay $50K or something? There is an abundance of no-skill crappy jobs out there for the barely literate. All you have to do to thrive there is show up. Preferably sober.

  11. In ’83 I imagined that a fellow high school student was going to go on a killing spree. He was bullied and humiliated mercilessly by both male and female fellow students. There were only about six of us that were nice to him. I never went to a reunion fearing he’d turn it into a surprise party. Looked him and a friend of his up a couple years ago and he found that he had turned out to be a gregarious and well adjusted person.

  12. We had a guy get fired a few years back that was a little unstable, he regularly did things to get back at people that he perceived “f-cked” him over. We gave the cops a heads up before he was fired so they could sit in the parking lot. Unfortunately he was one of those gun owners who antis like to point to as being representative of gun owners. Nothing ever came of it, and his mental state stabilized after his wife left him.

  13. Back in the late 1970s, in the early days of feminist agitation, I worked with a woman who was angry virtually all the time. The object varied, but the anger was always evident. After I caught a glimpse of a zippered handgun with the zipper partially open in her hefty purse I watched her like a hawk on those occasions I couldn’t casually leave her vicinity on a believable excuse. This was in Washington, D.C., after they achieved “home rule” and banned possession of virtually all handguns, and absolutely banned carrying one: I knew she was serious if she was assuming that level of legal risk. I’m glad to say she never went postal on us while she and I were co-workers, and I’d recognize her name if it ever appeared in the news as the perpetrator of some bloody mayhem. It hasn’t.

  14. I always carry a pocket 22 caliber at work. And a knife. No one needs to know. A sheep dog is not seen until the time comes. And I NEVER tell anyone I carry a gun at work. We did have an armed robbery in the parking lot the night I worked.

  15. Using middle names in crime stories has been standard journalistic practice forever. Calling him “John Robert Neumann Jr.” differentiates him from all the other John Neumann Jrs. that may be out there.

  16. Not exactly a co-worker, but more than a few clients I saw as an Assistant IG were truly frightening. Some were clearly unhinged from experiences down range, some clearly were dysfunctional before ever enlisting, but most often some combination of the two. We arranged desks and offices for easy egress and strategically placed “field expedient” defensive tools handy. It was the best we could do and and fortunately only once had to call the MPs for an incident.

  17. I was stationed at a facility on NAS North Island, CA when the San Yisidro McDonalds massacre happened. I was out of the facility-at the base gym when it hit the news live. My LCPO came to the gym to make sure that I was not at the McDonalds. That week end I did some soul searching to figure out why my command would consider that I could do something like that. Over time I changed their collective minds. I had to adjust my behavior and stop talking GUNS at work. Now I only talk GUNS where everyone does.

  18. Nah not here at work I don’t. Because I’m the only one who carries here at the shop. I may hate all my coworkets at one time or another. But at my age, anything would be a potential life sentence.

  19. Nope, never. In the legal industry there haven’t been any incidents from former employees that I know of, but there have been some spectacular attacks by disgruntled former clients or the opponents of former clients. Now I work for myself, no other employees, so it isn’t even an issue.

    • Same here, I just wanted to add that my great-great grandfather was shot and killed by opposing counsel in front of the courthouse after winning a case. I told that story to an older (but not really old) attorney, and he said that attorneys used to get into fist fights with each other all the time. I was pretty shocked.

  20. Sure. I work with some strange people. I don’t know how our HR dept. fails to screen these people out or how they got past the probationary period. But I prepare.

  21. Yes, I was concerned about retribution at the workplace. I was a “team leader” and had to report that one of my team members was seriously inebriated at work. Because he was so inebriated and this had already happened once or twice before, he was escorted out of the building and immediately fired.

    Within a week or two I received a personal phone call from someone that was unhinged and my situational awareness increased quite a bit both at home and work for the next several weeks. I did not own any firearms at the time so I was unarmed through that ordeal. Needless to say, it would have been wise to be armed … just in case.

  22. I worked for a few years at a large software company which employed hyper Type A programmers and project managers, many of them foreign, while maintaining a strict no weapons policy. Given the level of tirades and rants that occurred on a weekly basis, I did have concerns about some altercation turning to physical, potentially lethal violence.

    Despite the no weapons rule, while in that group I carried a Glock 27 in an ankle holster daily.

    • Not exactly. It actually means you’re really, REALLY gruntled. Let me explain.

      “Dis” is a prefix meaning apart, separate from, in reverse of, etc., as in discomfort, dislike, dissatisfied and so forth. Gruntled in the opposite sense would be a back formation from disgruntled, and not really a word. Dis can also be an intensifier, though, having the meaning of “very” or “extra.” That’s its meaning in disgruntled.

      Gruntled actually is a word, or used to be, but in existence from a different path. Gruntle is a “frequentative” of grunt. A verb can describe a one-time act, or an ongoing repetition of that act. For example, to wrest means to overpower something and seize something from that other entity. To wrestle is the ongoing action of wrest, so wrestle is a frequentative of wrest. (Lots of verbs ending in “le” are frequentatives of other verbs.)

      Similarly, gruntle is/was a frequentative of grunt, which originally meant something more like “gripe”, “whine”, or “complain”, as if in a grunting tone. So to disgruntle was to go around continually extra, extra complaining or openly resenting something. Somewhere along the way the meaning shifted slightly from doing the disgruntling to being disgruntled, but it still meant MORE resentfulness/bitterness, not the opposite.

      Gruntle doesn’t really survive to today’s usage, except in this intensified form paired with a prefix that has a different and more prominent meaning. Fun fact: “dis” meaning very/extra does still exist in some other words today, though not very common words. Disannul and diseambowel come to mind. There could be others.

  23. Over the years, at just about every company or location I’ve worked at, there has been somebody whom I considered “Most Likely To Go Postal.” If not the actual employee, then there has at least been a current or ex-partner in the picture who I could envision pulling that stunt at the workplace.

    The scenario has been at heightened risk the last couple of years here in Houston, as oil prices have been low and many companies were directly or indirectly affected by the industry’s slowdown.

    It finally happened at my company, where we, too, had some layoffs in 2015-2016. Earlier this year, a fairly long term employee who had been laid off in the last round of RIFs in 2016, returned to his former workplace with a revolver.

    He’d lost everything during his period of unemployment: cars, house, savings, and eventually his marriage. So he came back to work, slipped in through a back door, and roamed the halls calling out for his former manager.

    The manager and others happened to be in a meeting room at the time, but heard the man’s calls. They also heard screams and shouts to the effect of “He’s got a gun!!!” The meeting room occupants slammed the door shut and barricaded it with chairs and a table. (There usually aren’t locks on office building interior doors, nowadays.)

    Eventually, the man figured out that his former manager was in that meeting room, so he stood there pounding on the door and screaming like a lunatic for the manager to come out. By this point, about five minutes had passed since he was first spotted, armed and on-site, and the first 911 calls went out. So the police starting pulling into the parking lot. Upon hearing the sirens, he fired one shot to the head, mortally wounding himself, and he died at the hospital later that day. There were no other injuries.

    I didn’t know this man and I wasn’t there that day. I do know half a dozen of the people that were in that meeting room, though, including a personal friend. I’ve been to that facility many times, including that same meeting room, as recently as the week prior.

    Anything can happen, anywhere, any time, so carry always.

    • That’s a hard story. Sometimes when the chips are down, we do lose everything. The measure of a man is getting back up.

      • Spend a good portion of your life in a soul sucking job telling yourself it is worth it, only to lose everything because of a cyclic shift in economics. That’s a deep dark hole to climb out of and a pretty tough yardstick against which to measure a man.

        Truly, he made a bad choice, but one that’s all too common as people continue to have their backs pushed against the wall.

  24. It’s not an employee but the threat has come my way through work. She’s a crazy stalker that has vowed to kill me and eat me on facebook. FB seems to be perfectly fine with this, and apparently so are the police. It’s against company policy for me to carry at work, but it’s against my personal policy to wind up in a crazy woman’s crock pot.

  25. No. Most of the guys I work with are gun guys, and we’re all retired military. If anyone goes postal it will be one of the military guys who work down the hall from us.

  26. I literally had a co-worker walk up to me and ask if I could give him a gun so he could go postal. His exact words. He was also stalking one of the gals from the office at the time too.

    After that i stopped caring about company policy.

  27. Long time friend mentally went down hill for years and finally got bad enough that he is now “in protective custody”.

    Paranoid schizophrenic and he lost it big time one day, foaming at the mouth and all. I had seen him blow up at others without cause and figured it was just a matter of time before it was my turn. Always carried when around him.

    Always carry now.

  28. Someone asked me recently “does anyone in your family suffer from mental illness?” I replied “no, we all seem to enjoy it actually”

  29. Studies show that we all know someone capable of murder. I’m quite sure that it is John. So i killed him first. Now i’m statistically safe. Not worried no more.

  30. Dana Point , CA, 1993, Mark Hilbun, one of my co-workers passed him as he left Human Resources after being terminated. Another co-worker was leaving the Dana Point P.O. as he was going in. We also had a guy who was a Marine Viet Nam Vet that was in the CA National Guard. He was extremely angry that his Guard Unit was not called up for Desert Storm. Everyone watched him closely.

  31. I find it interesting that a major reason that a lot of CCL holders don’t carry at work is due to being fired from the job. The general retort is almost always “you can get another job but not another life”. (assuming of course that carrying at you place of employment is not also against the law)

    That “get another job” is all well and good unless you have been working for the same employer for a long time and are relying on the pension in a few years, and you can’t reasonably afford to take that risk of losing it all. I understand that position, having made the decision right out of college to take a lower take-home pay position in order to reap the benefits of a better retirement, than some of my peers who worked for other companies at a higher pay, but uncertain futures.

    Being in the position of not being able to carry at the office or even having to ability of leaving a firearm locked up in my car in the parking lot, lead me to become MUCH more interested in identifying and learning how to use almost any object within reach as a lethal weapon and becoming versed in “Speed, Surprise and Violence of Action” LOONG before it became fashionable as the new corporate security mantra. That attitude carried over into being aware out and about while outside of work as well.

    But lately a growing number of companies are exploring not offering retirement packages and/or generous vacation packages. Leaving the employee the responsibility to build and maintain their own retirement. That really opens the door to more of a “screw this company policy, I’ll take the risk of carrying where it may not be allowed, for my own safety” attitude. To me, that is a good thing. Corporations probably have not realized that unintended consequence yet…….

  32. I am in a position where occasionally I have to fire people, and also hear about employees’ crazy personal lives. I decided to get a CC license after hearing one too many stories about female employees having to draw on crazy (now-ex) husbands who had been stalking them, were found as sex perverts with their own children, attempted to kill the wife, etc. I was concerned about the crazy ex’s showing up at the workplace and shooting the rest of us while looking to shoot the wife. Then there are the firings. I carry deeply concealed when I have to let anyone go. I probably should carry at work all the time but it is difficult because strictly speaking it is prohibited. While there are plenty of employees who discuss their home protection guns, and I know many keep personal firearms in their cars, there are others who are certifiable hoplophobes and would themselves go ballistic if they knew “a boss” carried at work.

  33. I was working late one night when a notoriously unstable co-worker asked me if I could recommend an assault rifle that would fit into a laptop case. When I asked him why, he said “Some people around here really deserve what’s coming”.

    I reported the incident to Human Resources, but they didn’t fire him, telling me the situation had been “dealt with”. That’s code for “we don’t know who to believe, so we’re going to assume this is just a fight between you two”.

    Never count on Human Resources to have your back. They represent the interests of the company, and nothing else.

  34. Worked Residential Mortgage shop. One of loan officers would pitch a fit that was downright scary
    Office Manager gave lots of warnings but when manage finally had to fire the guy that’s when we had to change the locks and have rent a cop escort us to our cars. I do know our manager also keep a handgun locked in his desk. We all knew where the key was. Would I have shot the nut case? Yes, if in self defense, you bet I would have!
    He was street cat crazy!!! My dad was City Justice of the Peace and kept a 357 revolver in locked in his desk. He even gave me a handgun for when I would get off work and drive over to his house. Still have it. I later gave it my nephew, an Austin Police
    It was a Colt Mustang 380. I have any many guns as I have shoes. From Ruger LCR 22lr snake gun to all metal .357 revolver and what I call my “pretty gun, 9 p+ CZ. Clone in deep blue with silver sparkles. I shoot that one best of all the others. Fits my hand like it was custom made for me. Life is too short to carry an ugly handgun! And the men in my family never ask to borrow it.

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