‘Murder By Proxy’: Few Warning Signs In Workplace Violence


Criminologists call it murder by proxy — rampages by employees who go after their boss, supervisors and even co-workers they link to the source of their outrage, reports the Associated Press. The message is: Look who’s doing the firing now. These eruptions of workplace violence often occur in similarly brutal ways. But experts say they rarely come with a warning, making them hard to stop. Employers can reduce the risk of on-the-job attacks, especially in cases where employees are about to get axed; if there have been signs of distress or aggression, they can move the conversation away from the main work space or have security present. Patdown searches and the use of metal detectors are also options for some companies but have the drawback of raising tension.

In the latest outburst of workplace violence, a driver for a Connecticut fatally shot eight fellow workers and himself. Thornton calmly agreed to quit after being confronted with surveillance video showing him stealing beer. Shortly afterward, he started shooting. Nothing in his work history or behavior suggested he would be violent, the company said. Though Thornton, who is black, alleged in a phone call to 911 that he had been racially harassed, his employers and union disputed the claim and said he had never filed a complaint.

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