ALABAMA – Experts in criminology say workplace shootings are statistically rare. But clearly, these tragedies are not about statistics.
Reports indicate workplace shootings are up significantly this year compared to 2020.
A criminology expert who spoke to News 19 says context is important when we look at mass shooting numbers in 2020 and now in 2021. A lot of people weren’t at work last year and businesses faced shutdowns.
There have been multiple workplace mass shootings this year. In May, in San Jose, California, 9 employees were killed at the valley transportation authority before the shooter died by suicide. In April, in Indianapolis, a former FedEx employee opened fire at the facility, killing 8 employees before dying by a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Also in April, in Bryan, Texas, an employee killed one person and wounded 5 others at a cabinet manufacturing facility.
Now, Albertville is added to the list of cities where mass shooting occurred at workplaces in 2021.
Criminal justice professor Jaclyn Schildkraut says workplace shootings tend to follow the same trajectory, a grievance either real or imaginary.
“One of the things the pandemic potentially has done is effectively aggravated those grievances whether it was frustration with the workplace, whether it was a loss of a job, whether it was a loss of income or anything else,” said Jaclyn Schildkraut, associate professor, State University of New York at Oswego.
Before an attack occurs, she says there is a period of escalation.
“Fascination with weapons, they’ll talk about harming themselves, mostly harming other people, they’ll make threats, either directly or indirectly that they’ll come and shoot up the workplace or indirectly like maybe you shouldn’t come to work on Thursday,” Schildkraut said.
She says before someone harms themselves or others there is a chance to intervene.
“Whether it’s local law enforcement or local community mental health, getting resources to individuals exhibiting signs of crisis is going to be very important in not only identifying potential shooters, but also people that won’t necessarily escalate to the very worst day, but will inevitably harm themselves,” she stated.
Schildkraut notes after a mass shooting garners national attention, there is normally a call for new legislation. She says she believes the solution could be in systems that are already in place.
“There’s system failures. We don’t know how to report people or where to report people to. When they’re getting reported they’re falling through the cracks, or not being reported to the background check system, the people who are getting tips about whether or not these individuals are going to go out and do this aren’t doing anything,” she said. “We don’t necessarily need new systems, we just need to work within the confines of the ones we have and get them to a place where they’re working efficiently.”
Schildkraut says one of the most dangerous things people can say is “It could never happen here”. She calls gun violence is a national crisis. Preventing a mass shooting should be a priority for all communities.