Monday, October 10, 2011

Workplace Violence, National and Local

I'm going to have to find something positive to post about one of these days; for now, not so much...

There was a notorious workplace violence incident in California Wednesday morning (5 October 2011) that resulted in a community-wide manhunt that ended with the death of the suspect, Shareef Allman, Thursday morning. The site of the incident - Lehigh Hanson's Permanente Cement Plant - is a landmark in the hills above the South Bay city of Cupertino. Three persons were killed, seven were wounded, and the gunman was killed by the police after a 22 hour search. I encourage you to read the details of this case as it illustrates the complexity of connecting the dots in advance of violence (it's easy to do after the incident). There was a history of domestic violence (which does not always occur in these cases).  There were comments made to family members describing inappropriate use of military-style weapons.  There were long standing grievances at work.  Pay attention also to the idea that the perpetrator deliberately blocked exit routes before he began shooting.  We will learn more over time about how many different warning signs Allman was leaking up the fatal day. 

If your coworkers, family members, or friends make statements or engage in behaviors that concern you tell your employer or local police IMMEDIATELY.

Not all such cases make the national news. Sometimes disagreements, harassment, and stalking escalate to fatal violence. It doesn't always happen, but it can happen anywhere, even in the land of "Minnesota Nice." Stephanie Jaeb Maxam, an executive at U.S. Bank, was killed by her ex-husband Monday evening (3 October 2011) in the parking lot of the Parkdale Plaza at 1660 Highway 100 South, just a few short blocks south of us in St. Louis Park, MN. The only suspect, David Maxam, was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  They were divorced in 2006.  Intimate partner violence can happen anywhere to anybody.  While it may be human nature to turn away from arguments between strangers in public places; we may be the only ones who notice and take action in time.
If you know of anyone who is struggling with intimate partner violence offer to help them reach out to organizations such as Tubman or The Hotline IMMEDIATELY.

Robert Patrick Graves shot himself in his car in front of coworkers after being terminated by his employer in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville, MN, Thursday 29 September 2011. Family and friends report he was struggling with depression. I wonder how many of them knew he possessed a firearm. According to the BLS while the workplace homicide rate is near an all time low, workplace suicides have never been higher. Suicide at work is also a risk factor for homicide at work. Security, safety, and HR professionals need to remain alert for signs that employees are suffering from untreated depression.

If you know anyone who is dealing with depression or other suicide risk factors help them find assistance with groups such as SAVE or IMMEDIATELY.

There was an officer-involved shooting 22 September 2011 on Highway 394 west of downtown Minneapolis.  Katherine Gordon apparently brandished a pistol during a traffic stop and was shot in self defense by a Golden Valley Police Officer.  Ms. Gordon had previously complained of delusions and had attempted to find mental health treatment on several occasions before the deadly incident.

If anyone you know is reporting command hallucinations get them to a doctor or the emergency room. If they possess a firearm do whatever it takes to secure it.  If you can't get the help they need call your county social services hotline.  Do it now and be prepared to be persistent.