Employee shoots his boss after termination. What could have prevented it?

By Tamara Shelley | Investigations

Oct 15

 

Employee Shoots Boss After Being Laid Off Work

desperate gestures with gun in hands at work

Have you ever had to terminate an employee? If so, the headline above probably makes you lose sleep.

It’s a sad reality that situations like this happen all too often and they are all too real.

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Google any news channel and you’ll see stories just like this, an employee had just been notified he was being laid off of work. He immediately went to his car, retrieved a gun, took aim and fired on his boss, who was locking the door to the building.

As an investigator this brings up questions in my mind.

Were there other employees being laid off that day, or was this an isolated individual losing his job? Why did the boss feel the need to lock the door? There must have been something said during the firing that enraged the employee, causing him to act in this manner.

First, look at what led up to the firing.

While the reports may not give a reason for the employee’s termination, it must have been something upper management had contemplated before that day.

Assuming they knew they would lay off this employee, they could have taken several precautions to prevent this behavior and protect the business as a whole. Even if it were a response to an incident that had happened that same day, they could have done a few things differently.

If the bosses were planning on letting this employee go, they could have monitored his social media well before to gauge his state of mind and personal situation. For example: when people are desperate and feeling depressed or under stress, they tend to vent, post quotes or make statements that reflect these emotions. He may have posted about another family member, possibly looking for work, anything that would suggest that the personal situation within this individual’s world was a bit touchy. These indicators, coupled with the company’s decision to let him go, would make the perfect recipe for disaster if he were not well adjusted.

If the employee doesn’t have any social media accounts, or they are not accessible or posted on, the next best thing would be to talk to other employees, monitor his behavior on the job or go through his company emails to see what frame of mind he may be in.

If the firing was a result of some sort of action at work that day, it may have been the situation itself that had him worked up. However, the headline calls it a ‘Lay Off’ so it was most likely planned in advance by management.

 

Judge the temperament of the employee that day and see if you can get a good idea of his overall frame of mind.

Is he a big talker, who brags about shooting and taking a stand? Or is he the type who lets things fester?

The employer may have been as gentle as possible at breaking the news, but if the employee is not receptive to it, there is no way to predict his response. Knowing about a firing ahead of time should be carefully thought out. Maybe even having  a standard operating procedure for firings and layoffs regardless if they would be classified as “high risk” or not.

A call to a company who specializes in protective services would be good to have in your contact list. They can provide on-site personnel to supervise the termination, escort the employee off the property and not allow them to return to the building. This would provide a witness to the conversation as well as protection for the employer during the conversation should something go wrong.

It will also provide a secure perimeter so business can continue uninterrupted.

Another measure that should have been considered was a VIP protection detail.

Unless the employee is all around disgruntled, their beef is probably with their immediate supervisor or the person who fired them. This sort of protection could be covert or overt. A licensed bodyguard or Personal Protection Officer could be hired to escort the VIP to and from work, set up overnight surveillance on the home of the VIP to deter vandalism to their home and provide protection if it were to occur. A protection detail could also drive for the VIP in order to provide an unfamiliar vehicle and make them a harder target. If you wanted to protect the workplace a step further, protection details could be set up around the perimeter of the building or inside to provide surveillance and head off any attempts of trespassing that the former employee might be planning.

To take it a step further, you could set up surveillance on the former employee to monitor their whereabouts and actions following the termination. If they go to the gun store, the shooting range, a military surplus store or anything of that nature, that is definitely a red flag. However, they don’t have to leave their home to be dangerous. Simply monitoring their movements is going to let you know if they are physically coming to your location. I strongly suggest if you opt for surveillance of the employee, that you HIRE A PROFESSIONAL!

There are so many reasons you would not want to do this yourself or have any of your friends or employees do this. There are licensing issues to think of, not to mention the safety of the person conducting the surveillance.

Finally, does your company have a plan if this type of situation unfolds?

You have taken all the precautions, carried out your plan and have proper protection team in place. So what happens when it is time to end the detail and surveillance? You don’t simply stop being vigilant. You need to have a plan in place for the rouge individual who storms the building or office. This may well be a former employee, but what if it is a random act? Have a safe place employees can go, have a notice of some sort to alert employees in no uncertain terms that there is danger. Know how you will account for your employees after the dust settles.

This is a particularly frightening situation to be faced with.

Don’t wait until your company is featured on the six o’clock news to make preparations.

Make a plan now and decide ahead of time how to deal with lay-offs, firings and sudden terminations.

Hiring a professional protection and investigation company should be something you have thought about in advance. Similar to hiring an attorney, you need to know who you are dealing with before you need them. Establishing a relationship with this type of company gives you the peace of mind of hiring someone you have already spoken to and met with.

By doing this, they are more likely willing to jump into quick action on short notice for you and you know they are vetted.

This post was about a real story which happened in Texas, however I decided that to protect all parties I would not post the link.

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