Workplace Violence

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My high school English teacher, Dale Regan, was shot and killed on this day two years ago.  I had lunch with her a couple of years earlier, and will always think of her as “Ms. Regan.”  I will remember her kindness, wit, generosity, intelligence, and dedication.  Ms. Regan taught at the school for 34 years, spending the last seven as the Head of School.  

Two years ago, Ms. Regan fired one of the school’s teachers.  He came back to the school later that day with an AK-47.  He killed Ms. Regan; then himself.  

Shootings in schools and workplaces are far too common, and law firms are not immune.  Our colleagues in California will remember the 1993 shooting in San Francisco, perpetrated by a former client, who shot fourteen people — killing eight.  Others will remember the 2006 shooting in a Chicago patent law boutique, in which a disgruntled inventor targeted a firm he believed has stolen his invention, killing three people and then himself.  In 2007, a man upset about his divorce, walked into a Louisiana law firm, and shot five people. 

The victims of these shootings included staff and lawyers, visitors, clients and passers-by. 

Even with the passage of time, this kind of senselessness doesn’t make sense.  To try and do something constructive, though, here few tips from others about how to deal with such an exigency, whether it happens in an office in which you are working or visiting. 

  • Keep alert and report suspicious behavior.
  • Respond situationally:  If you can get away, run; if you’re unsure, hide; if you have no other choice, attack.
  • Call the police when and if you can.
  • Recognize that the police may not be able to immediately tell friend from foe, and will treat you as a potential assailant — so, listen carefully and follow directions.

Further advice can be found here or in the video below.  Warning:  It’s not pleasant viewing.

Just a few days ago, Norway selected a design for the memorial to mark the 2011 bombing and shooting in Norway that killed 77 men, women, and children, and injured hundreds of others.  Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg’s design was unanimously selected by a jury, which described the memorial as follows:

His suggestion for the Sørbråten site is to make a physical incision into the landscape, which can be seen as a symbolic wound. Part of the headland will be removed and visitors will not be able to touch the names of those killed, as these will be engraved into the wall on the other side of the slice out of nature. The void that is created evokes the sense of sudden loss combined with the long-term missing and remembrance of those who perished.

It is a stunningly beautiful and haunting design.