On August 26, 2015 an African-American former employee of the Roanoke, Virginia television station WDBJ Channel 7 approached a reporter-cameraman team at approximately 0645 local time while they were on assignment, shot them dead with a pistol, then fled the scene.

Approximately two hours later the shooter faxed a 23-page manifesto to ABC News, in which he detailed his grievances against WDBJ that included sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and bullying in the workplace. He cited the June 17 killings of black church-goers in Charleston, South Carolina as “…the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily…I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!”

An hour or two after the faxed manifesto, someone posted a video of the shooting on Twitter and Facebook by someone using the shooter’s on-air pseudonym Bryce Williams. The suspect fatally shot himself when state police closed in, and he died at the hospital.

Analyst Comment:

While workplace violence can vary by situation, companies should have contingency plans in place for active shooter situations. Pinkerton strongly recommends that companies conduct employee training for active shooter/workplace violence at least biannually, to give employees basic skills to help them deal with active shooter scenarios. Employees should know what to do at the first indication of danger, with an understanding of what their immediate reactions should be.

At the onset of such an incident, the first reaction should be an attempt to get away if safe to do so. If evacuating cannot be done, the next best option is to hide, preferably in a windowless room with a door that locks from the inside, such as a janitor’s closet. Try to contact the police if possible; but regardless of the options, remain calm and focus on getting out of the shooter’s field of view. If hidden, stay so until law enforcement arrives.

Prepared by: Victoria Allen, the United States

Published July 26, 2015