August 26, 2015, ex-employee of television station WDBJ intercepted a reporter and her cameraman at a remote shoot in Hardy, VA. He fired multiple rounds and killed both of them. Then he attempted to kill the subject of the report. After a vehicle chase, he committed suicide.
October 1, 2015, Roseburg, Oregon. A 28-year-old student walked onto the campus of Umpqua Community College. He went to the creative writing class he was taking and opened fire. He killed 9 and wounded 7. Then after a brief exchange of fire with police, he killed himself.
October 9, 2015, on the campus of Northern Arizona University (NAU), in Flagstaff, outside a dormitory for Fraternities & sororities, an 18-year-old student got into a verbal altercation with members of another fraternity. He ran to his car, pulled out a firearm, returned to the fight and opened fire. He wounded 3 and killed 1 student, before being arrested.
All three of these shooters forewarned their intent by showing warning signs of workplace & school violence (WPV/SV), which are virtually the same, for years. Yet, no one took them seriously. Instead of acting upon them, they made a conscious decision to ignore them. The results of their ignorance of the signs ended up with people dead, wounded, & traumatized.
Do you know the warning signs of someone who is close to going off? In my 24 years of researching, writing, & speaking about WPV/SV, I’ve created a list of 21. 2 or 3 of these is not, usually, cause for concern. But if you begin to see 5, 6, 7, or more… These are the most prevalent I have found;
Cruelty to Animals
Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Fascination with Weapons
Impact on Supervisory Time
Inconsistent Work Habits/Decreased Productivity
Obsession With Police/Military Tactics
New Religious Fervor/Political Affiliation
Poor Health & Hygiene
Poor Relationship Skills
Unusual or Changed Behavior
Violent Music, Movies and Video Games
Excuses not telling someone:
You may see these warning signs in friends, family, or co-workers. There are plenty of explanations/excuses to go along with the warning signs. But the main question is what excuse will you use to not tell someone?
- He was just going through a tough time
- He’ll come out of it
- He’s not that kind
- He would never do something like that
- He’s not capable of doing that
- He’s got problems, who doesn’t?
- I don’t want to get him in trouble
- I don’t want to get involved
- It’s not my problem
- Why should I care what happens to him?
- I hate this place, why should I warn them?
- This company needs a wake-up call anyway
- They won’t listen to me
Should I go on with the excuses? There are more excuses for ignoring these signs than there is space in a short blog post.
Most of these excuses and ignoring the warning signs comes down to one attitude. It Can’t Happen Here, which is the most dangerous that anyone, at any business/school can have, because it ignores the potential danger. Just because you ignore earthquakes, or tornadoes, doesn’t mean it won’t kill you.
And there is also no excuse for anyone to say ‘I didn’t think it could happen here!’ That was the utterance of a NAU student on the 9th. Just over a week after Umbqua. And Roseburg is smaller than Flagstaff. If it can happen in those places, what prevents it from happening anywhere else? And then there is your little town or campus…
They say that ignorance is bliss. Ignorance is no excuse for ignoring the law. And if you ignore the warning signs of WPV/SV you could be opening your business or campus up for coverage on FOX, CNN, and your local news outlets, with all of the bad publicity it brings.
Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 32 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear