The typical workplace killer is likely to be a 37-year-old single man who has been with a company at least four years. His attack is often a final, self-destructive act that follows personal problems in his life and at work. Often, he has exhibited a temper that has worried co-workers and bosses. And he doesn’t kill at random. Most workplace killers harbor grudges and know exactly whom they’re looking for.
These are among the findings of a USA TODAY investigation into employees who kill, an investigation that also found employers’ lax attitudes toward workplace violence leave many workers at risk. The paper compiled a database of 224 fatal incidents spanning nearly 30 years, from 1975 through 2003, to track the outcomes and motivations of employees who kill. The paper also interviewed – in person, by letter or phone – 18 people in prison for killing, or trying to kill, current or former co-workers. The research reveals new information about the traits shared by workplace attackers, who each week kill an average of one co-worker and leave at least 25 seriously injured.