Does your organization recognize domestic violence as a potential workplace violence/safety concern?
One of the most devastating episodes of domestic violence meeting workplace violence transpired in a special education classroom after a non-employee was granted access to his wife's workplace.
The following tragic case reveals that when a deadly episode of domestic violence occurs in the workplace the safety of everyone can be compromised, not just the targeted victim.
North Park Elementary School is located in San Bernardino, California. CCTV video footage from April 10, 2017 reveals that Cedric Anderson attempted to enter the school while classes were in session through a door which he found was locked.
Undeterred, he walked over to the school’s main entrance and was granted access after stating he needed to drop something off to his spouse who taught there.
Minutes later, Anderson entered the special needs classroom where his 53-year-old estranged wife Karen Elaine Smith was employed as a teacher.
Smith was standing in the middle of the classroom mere feet away from Anderson when he opened fire in front of a roomful of terrified youngsters.
Anderson killed two victims: Smith and an eight-year-old student. Anderson also wounded another child who luckily survived. Thereafter, he turned the gun on himself and committed suicide.
Smith and Anderson were newlyweds, married for only approximately four months at the time of the shooting. Smith became enraged after Anderson told him she wanted to leave the relationship.
As we have seen time and time again, angered domestic partners who confront their partners at work have a record of prior violence and Anderson was no exception.
Anderson had a well-documented prior history of domestic violence. In 1997, Anderson’s then ex-wife filed a petition for domestic violence restraining order against him, claiming that Anderson had threatened to kill her, her three sons and himself.
According to the woman, he later threatened to kidnap their children. In another filing, the same woman claimed that Anderson had assaulted her in front of his sister after he dropped off their children there.
(Please see Part I published on this blog yesterday for recommendations on how to mitigate the risk of domestic violence meeting workplace violence.)