Workplace Violence


Violence has become so common in our society today. It has happened again and again all over the United States – a total of 7 students were killed (including the gunman) and 13 others injured when 22-year-old Elliot Rodgers went on a stabbing and shooting rampage just outside the main campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Who can forget the tragedy that occurred at Virginia Tech two years ago that left 33 people dead, many of who were students (for details refer to the NY Times article at A recent commentary posted on May 23, 2010 in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Mariana A. Cotromanes was titled After a Campus Shooting, a New Reality (Jonathan Twingley for The Chronicle). An abstract from that commentary is shown below.

“For the last two years, it’s been difficult coming to terms with the shooting at Northern Illinois University. On Valentine’s Day of 2008, a young man took a rifle onto the campus and opened fire in a lecture hall, killing five students and wounding 18 others before committing suicide. A campus turned into a battlefield, students army-crawled across the floor for safety, and everyone couldn’t believe it was happening.”

Below is a chronological listing of some of the high profile campus shootings and killings in the United States during the last 10 years.

1. September 24, 2003: Rocori High School shooting. John Jason McLaughlin, aged 15, fatally shot two students at Rocori High School. A 17-year-old was killed immediately, and a 15-year-old died from his wounds on October 11, 2003. McLaughlin was sentenced to life in prison with the chance of parole in 2038.


2. March 21, 2005: Lake Indian Reservation, first killing his grandfather and grandfather’s companion. He drove his grandfather’s police vehicle to his high school, Red Lake Senior High School. Weise was armed with his grandfather’s police weapons—a .40 caliber Glock 23 pistol, Ruger .22 caliber pistol, and a Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun. He shot and killed five students, one teacher, one security guard, and then committed suicide. Seven other people were wounded in the shooting.


3. October 2, 2006: Amish school shooting: Charles Carl Roberts IV, a 32-year-old milk truck driver, shot to death five Amish girls and wounded five others before killing himself in an Amish school in the hamlet of Nickel Mines, in Bart Township, Lancaster County..


4. April 16, 2007: Virginia Tech massacre: Seung-Hui Cho, aged 23, shot and killed 32 students and faculty members, and wounded another 17 students and faculty members in two separate attacks on the same day, all before Cho committed suicide.


5. February 14, 2008: Northern Illinois University shooting: Steven Kazmierczak, 27, shot multiple people in a classroom of Northern Illinois University with a 12 gauge Remington Sportsman 48 shotgun, killing five and injuring 21. He then committed suicide. Kazmierczak was not a student at the university, but had attended it the years prior to the attack.


6. May 18, 2009: 21-year-old Justin Cosby was shot in the basement common room at Kirkland House, an undergraduate resident hall of Harvard University. Cosby was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with a gunshot wound in his abdomen, and died the next day. Four days later, 20-year-old Jabrai Jordon Copney, turned himself in for the murder of Cosby.


7. February 12, 2010: 2010 University of Alabama in Huntsville shooting: Amy Bishop Anderson, a biology professor, shot and killed three of her colleagues and wounded three others during a faculty meeting. In September 2012, she was sentenced to a life sentence without the possibility of parole, and is serving her sentence at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women.


8. January 5, 2011: At Millard South High School, student Robert Butler Jr., 18, shot and killed Assistant Principal Dr. Vicki Kaspar, and wounded Principal Curtis Case. Butler then opened fire indiscriminately in the front office area, causing the school nurse to be injured by gunshot debris. Butler drove to a parking lot and then fatally shot himself.


9. April 7, 2012: Oikos University shooting: One Goh is accused of shooting to death seven students and wounding three others in a classroom at Oikos University, a small Christian college. The gunman told the students in the classroom to line up against the wall, and exclaimed “I’m going to kill you all!” before firing the gun at them. He fled the scene, stealing a victim’s car, and was apprehended hours later in a nearby location. The weapon used was a .45 caliber handgun. Goh is charged with seven counts of murder and is believed by his psychiatrist to suffer from paranoid schizophrenia.


10. December 14, 2012: Adam Lanza, aged 20, killed 26 people and himself at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. He first killed his mother at their shared home before taking her guns and driving to the school. Lanza brought four guns with him; A Bushmaster .223 caliber XM15-E2S rifle, a Glock 10mm handgun, a Sig-Sauer P226 9mm handgun, and an Izhmash Saiga-12 12 gauge shotgun which was later found in the trunk of the car and not used in the shootings. [367] During the attack, 20 first-grade children aged six and seven were killed, along with six adults, including four teachers, the principal, and the school psychologist. Two others were injured. Lanza used the Bushmaster .223 caliber rifle against all of the victims at the school.


11. January 15, 2013: Two people were shot and killed and a third person was wounded at the parking lot of Hazard Community and Technical College. The third victim, 12-year-old Taylor Cornett, died from her wounds the next day. 21-year-old Dalton Lee Stidham was arrested and charged with three counts of murder.


12. June 7, 2013: 2013 Santa Monica shooting: Six people, including the shooter died and four others were wounded at or near the campus of Santa Monica College when a lone gunman opened fire on the school campus library after shooting at several cars and a city bus at separate crime scenes. The gunman, John Zawahri, was fatally wounded by responding police officers. Among the dead were the shooter’s father and brother, both of whom died inside a house that was set on fire a mile or so from the Santa Monica College campus.


13. May 23, 2014: 2014 Isla Vista shootings. 22-year-old Elliot Rodgers went on a stabbing and shooting rampage just outside the main campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Since some campus buildings were within the route of the shootings, this troublesome school shooting event includes the injuries of 13 and the loss of lives of 6 young adults in addition to the shooter.


At WKU, we are not immune to campus violence. For those students who were here on October 22, 2008, we survived an apparent campus shooting scare – an excerpt is shown below in this head line ( ).


WKU shooting scare causes campus lockdown

“The Western Kentucky University community is breathing a sigh of relief, after reports of four shooters on the WKU south campus and shots fired on the main campus put the university on lockdown for several hours Wednesday afternoon.”

As a student, you must be aware that Western Kentucky University is committed to caring for your intellectual, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. When a national or world tragedy occurs, faculty members often express the wish to help students effectively deal with the aftermath. The 2009 Campus Security Report by WKU Police is posted at TopSCHOLAR.( ua records/7)

At the national level, The Higher Education Opportunity Act (Public Law 110-315) (HEOA) was enacted on August 14, 2008. This law reauthorizes and extends the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended. The Higher Education Act (HEA) provides the statutory authority for most of the programs and activities administered or conducted by the Office of Postsecondary Education, including requirements related to campus security and safety.

Parents and students can now use the Internet to review campus crime statistics for colleges and university campuses online. For more information, visit the following website:

For more information on Campus Safety and Security and to review the 2012 Annual Campus Crime Awareness and Campus Security Report (the most current that I could find), please visit the following websites: and


Discussion Questions:

1. Have you been affected by a school or work-related violence of any kind? Briefly discuss the nature of the violence and how you survived or dealt with it.

2. In your opinion, what are some of the things that college and university administrators can do to improve campus safety and prevent or reduce violence? What can you (as a student or group of students) do to prevent a repeat of these senseless killings at our higher institutions?

3. What factors motivated or triggered the attacks? How did target selection compare with the actual victims?

4. What pre-incident behaviors were directed toward the targets?

5. How can universities and colleges improve their understanding of what leads an offender to target random individuals during a violent crime?

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