My research project "The Killer in the Next Cubicle" evaluates more than 140 employee-on-employee homicides/suicides across America since 2010.
The following observations have been noted:
1) Guns: Although knives and hands were used to murder, guns by far are the weapons of choice.
2) Florida: Thus far in 2017, nearly half of these homicides occurred in the state of Florida.
3) Homicidal Rage: Out-of-control anger has been noted in a number of the killings. For instance, either multiple victims were killed or injured or "overkill" involving repeated shots fired at one victim and frequently at close range resulted.
4) Bullying: Bullying is a predominant and recurring theme.
5) Warning Signs: Contrary to the concept the killer was perfectly fine but then "just snapped," common warning signs have emerged, including prior on-the-job problems, mental health issues and disconcerting public displays on social media.
Social Media and a Tale of Two Rampage Killers.
Randy Stair the employee responsible for the most recent carnage infers in one of many troubling social media messages that "nothing" can be done to prevent the next tragedy.
Yet what might the visitor to Stair's social media accounts have observed in the weeks and months leading up to last Thursday when he murdered three co-workers before taking his own life?
(Screen Shots - Randy Stair)
Dating back to July 2016, Stair left behind a cache of frightening images, cartoons, videos, and messages on-line for the world to view. He comes across as an angry, violent and lonely individual.
Amongst other things, Stair posted numerous images of himself with his shotguns. He went so far as to name them "the twins" and is even seen caressing and kissing one.
In one of his videos Stair proclaims “All souls are fair game.” Stair who idolized the Columbine killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
On June 8, 2017, Stair brought his weapons to work and converted a small town grocery store in Pennsylvania into a war zone.
Another of the rampage killers is Cedric R. Ford.
Ford who had a lengthy criminal record in two states posted images of himself online displaying a firearm on his lap alongside a container of alcohol while at the wheel of a vehicle.
This particular photo is accompanied by facebook banter between Ford and his social media friends.
As a convicted felon, Ford should never have been in possession of any firearms whatsoever. Nonetheless, other images showcase Ford shooting a shotgun into a sprawling open field.
On February 25, 2016, Ford shot three co-workers to death and injured 14 other people in Kansas.
The massacre ended after Ford shot at a first responder in the same factory where he and his colleagues were at work not long beforehand. The first responder returned fire, killing Ford.
(Screen shots - Cedric R. Ford)
Workplace Violence Prevention.
Contrary to what Stair has said, I believe much can be done if we use information regarding what has occurred in the past in a proactive manner to prevent future tragedies.
More should be done than simply laying wreaths or holding candles after employee-on-employee murders occur. Then going back to business as usual.
That is until the next life is taken and another family and community are destroyed.
Employee-on-employee murders are not committed by strangers who walk into a workplace one day and kill.
They are perpetrated by individuals who worked alongside the people they went on to murder for weeks, months, and even years in some cases.
They are known entities.
The warnings signs are there.
This is why opportunities for prevention exist.
What do we as a nation intend to do with this information where the issue of employee safety is concerned?
There's a saying if you want to know what's going on in the workplace ask the employees. They are a potential source of information about potential safety risks amongst other important matters relative to workplace operations.
They take smoke and meal breaks with each other. They socialize with one another. They are in and out of each other's twitter, facebook, instagram and youtube accounts. They gossip about each other. They observe problem behavior.
Are systems in place to encourage and report any potential safety breeches to management without fear of retribution and with the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously?
Employee safety is or should be everyone's business.