Workplace Shooting at University of Alabama

Yet another heartbreaking story of a workplace shooting.

During a faculty meeting yesterday, Dr. Amy Bishop opened fire on her colleagues killing three and wounding three others after learning she would not be granted tenure at the University of Alabama.

From The New York Times:

On Friday, she presided over her regular anatomy and neurosciences class before going to an afternoon faculty meeting on the third floor of the Shelby Center for Science and Technology.

There she sat quietly for about 30 or 40 minutes, said one faculty member who had spoken to some of the dozen people who were in the room. Then Dr. Bishop pulled out a 9-millimeter handgun and began shooting, firing several rounds, the police said.

While all violence is terrifying and tragic, workplace shootings strike a particular chord of terror. The workplace is essentially a collection of strangers brought together. In order for this group to be successful, there needs to be an implied trust that no harm will come to one at the hands of the other. Yet incidents of violence in the workplace continue to occur.

And HR can only do so much. Of course we write, distribute and enforce the policies to the best of our ability. We can do background checks and terminate for incidents of violence. But what can we do when a gun is literally pointed at our heads? What happens when the person who was terminated comes back to the workplace with a weapon and makes HR his/her first target? Or the employee who has given no indication of an issue, who then opens fire for reasons only known to him/her?

Obviously there are no answers here, although I do find it interesting that Dr. Bishop is now under re-investigation for the 1986 shooting death of her brother. Since she wasn’t charged at the time, there was no way it would show up on a background check.

It’s all such a shame. For those who were killed. For her four children. For everyone involved.