Disgruntled, heavily armed employee shows up for work and murders nine of his co-workers: This week’s carnage at a California rail yard is any American employer’s worst nightmare come true.
Samuel Cassidy, a 57-year-old white man, fired about 40 shots on Wednesday at the public transport yard where he worked as a maintenance worker in San Jose, California.
He was not the first American employee to commit mass murder on the job, and in a country awash with guns, he’s unlikely to be the last.
From 1970 to 1990, employees or former employees of the US postal system alone killed around 40 people in a series of shootings at mail facilities. Americans coined the term “go in the mail” to describe spasms of violence in the workplace.
The coronavirus pandemic allowed a break in this violence. But as many businesses have reopened, with it came a return to shootings. In April, an employee at a furniture store in Texas shot and killed one person and a former employee killed eight people at a FedEx factory in Indianapolis, Indiana.
When police arrived at the rail yard on Wednesday, Cassidy committed suicide. Three semi-automatic pistols and 32 magazines were found on him.
“He was very deliberate, very quick; he knew where the employees would be, ”Sheriff Laurie Smith told NBC television.
A search this week at Cassidy’s home – which was set on fire shortly before the attack – uncovered 12 guns, some 22,000 rounds and suspected Molotov cocktails, Smith said in a statement Friday.
Its motive has not yet been determined.
But Cassidy “has been described by her co-workers as unhappy,” and detectives are investigating her relationship with her employers and co-workers, Smith said.
He may have chosen his targets carefully. He reportedly said to a colleague, “I’m not going to shoot you.
Cassidy’s ex-wife said during their marriage, which ended in 2005, he complained a lot about his job.
“He just thought some people had easier things to live with at work and he would get the toughest jobs,” Cecilia Nelms told the Mercury News, a San Jose daily, describing a man with violent swings in the mood.
Upon returning from a trip to the Philippines in 2016, Cassidy’s luggage was searched. Customs officials found “books on terrorism” and notes about how he hated the company he worked for, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo revealed by the Wall Street Journal.
A spokeswoman for the agency declined to comment on the case, saying the investigation was ongoing. She highlighted the ministry’s efforts to identify “behavioral indicators associated with targeted violence and a policy to improve information sharing with our partners”.
“You can’t identify people in advance, even if they say I want to kill this guy,” said James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston and an expert on workplace violence.
# photo1He said that in companies “there are people who are worrying. But the vast majority of them will never do anything in response to the grievances, other than complain ”.
– Grief –
Additionally, Fox said, workplace shootings are relatively rare considering the size of America’s workforce and the millions of guns circulating in the country. One third of adults report owning at least one firearm.
In 2017, 458 people died in workplace shootings, according to the latest official statistics, but only 77 of those deaths were committed by workers. The rest were committed by burglars, relatives of employees or disgruntled customers.
In the United States, businesses are legally required to provide a safe working environment for people. They are therefore increasingly aware of the risk of violence and are taking action to deal with this danger.
# photo2According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), about 45% of American workers say their company has a workplace violence prevention policy.
The organization provides advice to businesses, ranging from identifying risky situations to teaching people how to flee or hide, for example, in the event of a workplace shootout.
“We have learned some lessons over the years,” Fox said.
“A business can do whatever it needs to do. But at the end of the day, even if it treats all of its employees fairly, that doesn’t mean that all of its employees will think they are being treated fairly.
As guns are readily available in America, Fox said, “sometimes those employees with a grievance have a gun to express their displeasure.”
© 2021 AFP