San Jose Shooting Raises Questions of Post-COVID Workplace Anger

Print More

Police gather at shooting scene in San Jose, Ca., Wednesday. Still photo via LA Times video.

The third workplace-related shooting rampage in less than two months could foreshadow a rise in this type of violence after the nationwide shutdown of businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NPR reports.  

Speaking in the wake of an incident Wednesday at the San Jose, Ca., railyard, in which a 57-year-old municipal transit worker opened first on fellow workers, killing eight before turning the weapon on himself, observers suggested pent-up anger and emotions after a year of office lockdowns could lead to deadly violence.

“One of the things that we know about shooters, especially those who target schools or other specific public spaces, is that they don’t usually wake up and snap,” says Jaclyn Schildkraut, associate professor of criminal justice at the State University of New York at Oswego.

“It’s very unlikely that the individual woke up this morning and said, ‘It’s Wednesday, I’m going to go and commit a mass shooting,’ …”and so when we think about the pandemic and this idea of opportunity, not only did we remove the opportunity for the crime to occur, but we gave them more opportunity to plan.”

So far, there are few details about the person who carried out the latest shooting in San Jose. The shooter was identified as Samuel James Cassidy, a 57-year-old municipal transit worker, reports the New York Times. Authorities said that Cassidy, appeared to have killed himself on the scene and that it is currently unclear how many people were wounded.

Cassidy was an employee of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, which oversees bus, rail and paratransit service for commuters, said Sgt. Russell Davis, a spokesman for the county sheriff’s office. He did not identify the weapon used, or offer a possible motive, although Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose said Mr. Cassidy’s co-workers had “expressed generalized concerns about his mental health.”

The attack comes on the heels of a similar shooting in Indianapolis on April 15 in which a former FedEx worker also killed eight people before killing himself. That was reported to be the deadliest workplace massacre since a brewery employee gunned down five people at the Molson Coors campus in Milwaukee in February 2020, shortly before the pandemic shutdown.

About a week before the Indiana shooting, a gunman killed one person and wounded five others in an ambush at a cabinet manufacturing facility in Bryan, Texas, where he worked. He survived and was arrested.

Workplace shootings are relatively rare. A database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University found that between 2006 and February 2020, there had been 13 mass workplace shootings carried out by a current or former employee — roughly one a year on average.

Seamus Mcgraw, author of From a Taller Tower: The Rise of the American Mass Shooter, says that typical “precipitating factors” are that the perpetrators “feel ostracized by coworkers or maybe they feel like they’ve been bullied or slighted in some way or maybe passed up for promotion.”

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden ordered the flag over the White House to “yet again” be lowered to half-staff and said Congress should immediately “heed the call of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners, to help end this epidemic of gun violence in America,” according to USA Today.

In April, President Biden issued half a dozen executive orders to curb proliferations of untraceable ghost guns and create stiffer overall gun regulations that have, thus far, languished in a divided Senate

By Wednesday evening, the county medical examiner’s office had released the names of eight victims, including Mr. Rudometkin, 40, of Santa Cruz. Also killed were Paul Delacruz Megia, 42; Taptejdeep Singh, 36; Adrian Balleza, 29; Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, 35; Timothy Michael Romo, 49; Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, 63; and Lars Kepler Lane, 63; and Alex Ward Fritch, 49, who died later at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *