Stopping an enraged gunman from entering the workplace is a daunting task that’s made even more difficult if the shooter has security credentials allowing them to pass through electronically secured doors and entrances.
If they get past trained, uniformed security officers, even having people on the factory floor who are registered concealed-carry gun owners isn’t necessarily a solution, said Steve Albrecht, a former San Diego police officer who is now in private security and has written a book on workplace violence.
“There are so many unknown factors with concealed-carry because, when the police show up at the shooting scene, how do they identify the bad guy? That can be a huge challenge,” Albrecht said.
Another issue is whether the person charged with providing protection has the necessary training.
“Having the ability to kill another human being in protection of the lives of others is a big step. We expect cops to do that as part of their training and psychological makeup, but it’s a huge burden of responsibility to say that we expect it of others,” Albrecht said.
Having metal detectors at plant entrances is impractical in a factory setting with hundreds of people coming and going — some of them carrying tools and equipment they need for their jobs. If a detector is configured properly, even something like a belt clip could trigger a false alarm.
The best prevention probably comes from a combination of measures, including recognizing the signs that someone may become a threat, according to security experts.
“Management has to be prepared to monitor the person who seems to be going off the rails,” said Martin Dolan, a Chicago attorney whose firm represented the victims of the Henry Pratt factory shooting a year ago in Aurora, Illinois.
In that shooting, the gunman, 45-year-old Gary Montez Martin, was shot and killed by police after he shot to death five people in the massive warehouse where he worked. Six police offers were also wounded in the gunfight.
Authorities said Martin, a 15-year-employee at Henry Pratt, had been told that he was terminated from the company just before the shooting began.
“He had been acting in ways that had become more alarming,” Dolan said. “I think manufacturers need to have better policies to encourage workers to speak up when they see behavior like that, and to feel comfortable that they won’t be retaliated against for doing so.”
“Until we start to understand the concept of emerging aggression, we will never get in front of the crisis,” said Mark James with Panther Protection Services in Atlanta, which has represented large companies including Coca-Cola and Nike.
“Monsters always start out as Gremlins,” James said.
“There are always signs or pre-incident indicators. Until we teach people how to recognize the signs of people in need of assistance we will continue to say violence is acceptable.”