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Study: Some Types Of Fatal Workplace Shootings On The Rise

A Hartford Distributors building is seen behind a yellow police tape, in Manchester, Conn., Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. Eight people were killed Tuesday when Omar Thornton opened fire after a disciplinary hearing at the beer distributorship in Manchester.
Steven Senne
/
Associated Press
A Hartford Distributors building is seen behind a yellow police tape, in Manchester, Conn., Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. Eight people were killed Tuesday when Omar Thornton opened fire after a disciplinary hearing at the beer distributorship in Manchester.

According to a new study, there's been a rise in the number of fatal workplace shootings that are unrelated to robberies. Workplace shootings aren't uncommon, but they don't always make headlines unless multiple people are killed. 

It was 1998 when a Connecticut Lottery employee shot and killed four of his co-workers, angered by his salary and not receiving a promotion. Meanwhile, the controversial term "going postal" reflected a series of fatal shootings at post offices across the country by employees.

"Workplace homicides really peaked in the mid-1990s and have been slowly declining over the last two-plus decades," said Dr. Mitchell L. Doucette, a health sciences assistant professor at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Doucette and a team of researchers wanted to identify whether or not the causes of workplace homicides remained the same in recent years. They used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from 2011 to 2015. Law enforcement deaths were excluded from the analysis. During that period, there were 1,553 firearm workplace homicides. Many of the shooters were armed at the time of the incident.

"What we see more recently now is that these crimes are more often committed as part of non-robbery events," he said. "This includes things like arguments, both arguments between employers and employees, arguments between customers and employees, as well as other types of crimes [like] intimate partner violence, mass shootings and other types of circumstances."

Prior to this study, mass shootings weren't included as a type of workplace homicide so incidents like the 2010 Hartford Distributors shooting where the gunman killed eight co-workers and then himself, would've been excluded.

Doucette is in the process of looking at state-level data to determine if states with less restrictive handgun laws have higher rates of these types of fatalities.

Ryan Lindsay has been asking questions since she figured how to say her first few words. She eventually figured out that journalism is the profession where you can and should always ask questions.

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