Stopping violence in the workplace

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MILWAUKEE -- Violence in the workplace has become an all too common occurrence -- brought to light once again by Friday's shooting in New York City near the Empire State Building.  Jeffrey Johnson, who had been laid off, shot a co-worker in the head, before police shot and killed him. Experts said the key to preventing this type of violence is identifying someone near the brink before it goes too far.

The man killed by a former co-worker on a Manhattan sidewalk Friday was shot five times in the head, the New York Medical Examiner's office said Sunday.

Two officers responding to the shooting fired 16 rounds at Johnson, a disgruntled former apparel designer, killing him after he engaged in a gunbattle with police, authorities said.

Johnson, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard in the mid-1970s, had two rounds left in his pistol. It holds eight, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Saturday.

Nine pedestrians suffered bullet or fragment wounds in the hail of gunfire, all from shots fired by police, Kelly said. Three passers-by sustained direct gunshot wounds, while the remaining six were hit by fragments, Kelly said.

Johnson was apparently laid off from his job as a designer of women's accessories at Hazan Import Co. last year.

In Milwaukee, a similar shooting occurred at Trans-Coil International when Thaiv Xiong shot and killed his manager, George Hites before turning the gun on himself.

Nola J. Hitchcock Cross specializes in employment law, and said being terminated is a life altering experience many folks aren't always equipped to handle. The employee can feel targeted and needs help before they feel there's no alternative but resorting to violence.

 "Usually it kind of eats inside them for a while. A lot of things employers can do is have an E.A.P or employees assistance program, which is a particular program to talk to a therapist about workplace issues in confidentially, with therapy and to be able to be released from work and have it paid for by the employer," Cross said.

Cross also said employers can play a part in keeping the peace.

"The better way to go is to give someone notice -- here's some of the rules. You're not really complying with them, so we’re going to give you a little more opportunity and if you don’t make it, you're going to be out," Cross said.

Psychoanalyst, Ashok Bedi believes the sense of hopelessness can be quelled when employers are not abrupt and offer options.

“Was there adequate efforts to prepare this person for the layoff? Was it done in a respectful manner?  Were adequate benefits given?" Bedi said.

Experts say everyone utilizing resources may help someone on the verge of violence. Experts also believe a lot of the violence occurs when someone is made to feel disposable. An absence of a Plan B is one of the single largest factors in why people kill themselves or someone else.

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