Combatting Violence In The Workplace


It was like any other fall day at a New Jersey automotive store when an agitated man entered the shop and headed upstairs to the office of his former girlfriend, an administrative assistant for an adjoining business. The man approached her and began an argument, then threatened her life with a gun. Employees nearby heard raised voices and threats and panicked. The store’s manager ran upstairs to help. The assailant shot him as he approached and then fired at his former girlfriend, striking her twice. The assailant then shot himself. Both victims survived.

John Matthews, PMA Senior Risk Control Consultant and former municipal police officer for 26 years, was friends with the store’s manager at the time of the incident. And even though it happened some time ago, the incident is still etched in his mind. “You couldn’t get an anymore ‘out of the way’ place,” Matthews says. “It wasn’t a main drag. It was on a dead-end street.” In addition, the office building was not open to the public. “It happened to be a domestic situation where the ex-boyfriend knew where his ex-girlfriend was going to be and he went there to do her harm,” he says.

Unfortunately, active shooter incidents are on the rise in the workplace no matter what the location. “This was a business not open to the public. Simply locking the door could have kept the intruder from heading upstairs and getting to his target,” he says. However, it is not always so clear cut.