An Average Profile of a Perpetrator

by todaystrainingblog

While these signs below are the most frequent profiles of people who will perpetrate an incident of workplace violence (WPV), it is by no means the exclusive and definitive list. Just as many WPV incidents can and will be carried out by people that don’t fit comfortably into this list. Therefore, we must be constantly aware and be willing to spot/report something.

The age of a perpetrator will usually be between 25 and 45 years of age. But in recent years we’ve seen people as young as 20 and as old as 70 that will commit an incident.
As with the 17-year-old in Monroeville PA. in February, no one can ever say that he was within the normal age group of either WPV or SV. The same holds true all the way around. I believe the ages are lengthening.

Race & Gender:
The overwhelming majority of incidents are committed by white males. Again, this is the majority. There are numerous incidents where I can point you to a female and a black, Asian, Hispanic, or Arabic descendant who perpetrated the crime.

The majority of people, media and law enforcement alike, believe that most WPV incidents occur with firearms. They do not! Only the incidents that get the headlines are committed with firearms. More incidents are committed with fists, words, & other implements than are with firearms, including hammers, screwdrivers, & even pencils. As it has been said for a few years in the media, “If it bleeds it leads”.

Family/work Stress:
Serious stress in someone’s family is also in the profile. Stress, as I’m sure you know, can come from many different sources. From a child’s illness, financial, divorce, and so many other items. If you look at most incidents there is stress of some kind that is among the reasoning’s for them to commit the crime. Then look at the stress placed on individuals in their jobs, wondering if they’ll have a job and etc.

Mental Illness:
Everyone who perpetrates an incident of WPV has been perceived to have a mental illness. In most instances, they do. But not in all cases. Please remember that depression, or another health concern can be destructive to someone’s mental health and put them into ‘a dark abyss’ of mental illness.

Perception of disparate treatment:
I haven’t read any incident of WPV, involving co-workers, that haven’t included this aspect of the profile. Motra Transmissions in Phoenix in 2005 is a good example and I’m sure you can name hundreds more. Everyone that I have read/heard about has perceived that they received disparate treatment from co-workers, supervisors, managers, vendors, and etc.

Ah, the proverbial ‘lone wolf’. The people who commit these crimes, whether it be at a business, the parking lot, the sidewalk, or in someone’s home will normally be a loner. From sitting by themselves at lunch or on breaks or just never socializing with others at work or when out.
They may sit by themselves and appear to be happy or satisfied, but they aren’t. In some cases they are just painfully, for them, shy. In either event, they shun other people for innumerable reasons.

Anger Issues
This is one that is becoming more prevalent as time progresses. You can see it with the number of shootings committed by teenagers and young adults in shopping malls. They don’t know how to handle their anger so therefore they lash out at whatever is making them upset. And unfortunately sometimes it’s an innocent bystander.
And as in most SV incidents you can blame society and the parents for this one. No child ever fails (or learns to fail) and everything is there for them and them alone. Therefore they having the feeling of entitlement that they can do no wrong and they want what they want.

Other signs:
There are numerous other signs that can profile the potential perpetrator of this crime. In these cases, if you look at the warning signs, then you’ll see many other facets of someone who may become violent in the workplace. From drug and alcohol abuse, addiction to violent music, video games, & movies, and attendance issues.
As with the warning signs, we all have to be able to ‘connect the dots’ and not be afraid to tell or talk to someone about the co-worker, significant other, customer, and etc. Be they a friend or not, someone has to say something and not just ignore or blow off the signs.

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on workplace violence prevention and other security issues. With numerous interviews, a twice weekly blog, articles, and 2 books he has proven himself in the security field for more than 31 years, and 23 studying workplace violence issues.
He utilizes his years of field knowledge to give real life examples of incidents pulled from both his own experiences and the news headlines. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or through his Facebook page at Here you will see and read about other items related to security as well as WPV.