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Assessing, Managing and Mitigating Workplace Violence: Active Shooter Threat

Executive Summary

Violence in the workplace can have wide-reaching effects in communities. Victims of workplace violence can suffer from lasting physical and psychological problems and bear the financial burden of care after experiencing a violent incident. Workplace violence can also affect coworkers, witnesses and victims’ families. For organizations, violent acts can lower employee productivity and morale and increase turnover. They can also increase financial burdens on organizations in the form of workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses, lawsuits and liability costs.1

Threat Scenario

The Characters

Jane is a lawyer in a construction practice area within a midsize law firm located in a metropolitan area. She has several clients who are contractors in the same area, including one who is seeking to scale up his business.

Bill, the contractor, has been in business for over a decade and business has been good. Bill’s clients have been in the small to midsize range, and he is ready to scale up to larger projects representing new and larger clients. Bill networked his way to a major project

in the community to build a new residential development. To make this project a success, Bill hired new staff including several managers to assist in the bid process and others to develop the needed plans and drawings to move forward. Bill’s company paid the application and licensing fees, as well as the legal fees.

The Setting

It is a Friday morning and staff are arriving at the firm. There are morning clients to see and work to wrap up before a late afternoon gathering for the three interns just completing their summer internship with the firm.

Bill arrives at the firm angry and in despair after being notified that the zoning board has denied his final appeal to rezone the proposed construction site for the new residential complex. The challenge to Bill’s petition was initiated by an environmental group determined to preserve the proposed building site as a natural, undisturbed wildlife habitat. This denial to rezone the area will cause Bill great financial loss and tarnish his reputation with future developers and the community where many of his new employees reside.

The Incident

Bill enters the office building and takes the elevator to the law firm’s fifth floor offices. Walking uncontested through the office, Bill searches for Jane. Bill is distraught and holds Jane and the firm fully responsible, believing that Jane did not accurately represent him or fight hard enough against the environmentalists, who opposed the rezoning.

Joe, the client services receptionist, is the first person to encounter Bill and tries to stop him. When he realizes Bill has a gun, Joe is too stunned to react. Bill makes his way to Jane’s office. As a client, Bill has visited the firm many times and knows his way around the office. He gets to Jane’s office and not finding her there, Bill frustratedly fires a shot into her empty office.

Bill begins walking through the office looking for Jane, firing random shots as he makes his way to the conference room where a client meeting is taking place. Firing sporadically, Bill hits an attorney and one of the interns. Bill is screaming and yelling for Jane. Staff is confused and frightened; some employees run to hide while others remain at their desks immobilized by panic and fear.

About the Authors

Albert J. Marcella Jr., PhD, CISA, CISM
Business Automation Consultants, LLC

Madeline Parisi, MAdEd
Madeline Parisi & Associates LLC


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