American flags, part of a makeshift memorial, stand near the site of a 2019 shooting in Virginia Beach, Va. (AP)

VOA Special Report

Workplace shootings

Mass shootings (1966 - 2019)

The first workplace mass shooting of the modern era took place in 1967 at a paper mill in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

Mass shootings are defined by the Congressional Research Service as four or more victims.

By the 1990s, the number of workplace shootings had increased significantly, to 16. During that decade, shootings occurred at a Xerox office building in Honolulu, Hawaii, a Radisson Hotel in Tampa, Florida, and two day trading firms in Atlanta, Georgia.

One of the more common locations for a workplace shooting was a U.S. post office. The first mass shooting there took place in 1986, when an employee in Edmond, Oklahoma, shot 20 co-workers, killing 14 of them. In 1991, five workers were killed at a post office in Royal Oak, Michigan, by a co-worker who had been fired.

On May 6, 1993, two post office shootings occurred a few hours apart, in Dearborn, Michigan, and Dana Point, California. Though these incidents did not fit the Congressional Research Service’s definition of a mass shooting, they inspired a new slang for workplace shootings. By the end of the year, “going postal” had entered the public’s vocabulary.

Military facilities have also become a common site of workplace shootings. In 1994, a mass shooting at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington state killed four people. A shooting at Fort Hood, near Killeen, Texas, in 2009 left 13 unarmed soldiers and civilians dead. In 2013, an attack at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., killed 12.

Workplace mass shooting locations Fatalities and workplace mass shootings

Circles scaled according to the number of fatalities.

Jillian Peterson, Ph.D., and James Densley, Ph.D., built a new database of mass shooters that they hope will inform future research and policy decisions about how to effectively prevent and respond to mass shootings.

For their study, they used the Congressional Research Service’s definition of a mass shooting:

“a multiple homicide incident in which four or more victims are murdered with firearms — not including the offender(s) — within one event, and at least some of the murders occurred in a public location or locations in close geographical proximity (e.g., a workplace, school, restaurant, or other public settings), and the murders are not attributable to any other underlying criminal activity or commonplace circumstance (armed robbery, criminal competition, insurance fraud, argument, or romantic triangle).”

About the data

All shooters have either been charged, convicted or killed at the scene.

In two years, the team collected more than 100 pieces of information on each of 171 mass shooters, resulting in The Violence Project Database of Mass Shootings in the United States, 1966-2019.

They compiled details on hundreds of factors, including age, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, education, relationship status, number of children, employment type and status, military service and branch, criminal, violence and abuse history, gang and terrorist affiliation, bullying, home environment and trauma.

What emerged were fleshed-out profiles and motivations of individual shooters, whose crimes can potentially influence current, and future policy and prevention.

Workplace shootings (1966 - 2019)

While there is no single profile of a mass shooter, there are several similar characteristics of shooters who commit crimes where they work.

According to The Violence Project database, a workplace shooter was a male in his 40s of any race. He was a blue-collar worker and had trouble at work. He used handguns and assault rifles that he legally owned.

Almost all workplace shooters have employment troubles (82%). While many are motivated to carry out their shooting at least in part by anger over workplace issues, some recent high-profile shootings have been carried out in the name of terrorism, including the attacks at a San Bernardino County, California, office party in 2015, and the Fort Hood, Texas, military base in 2009.

Nearly all workplace shooters showed signs of crisis (86%), or a marked change in behavior, often triggered by a job dismissal. Such signs include failing to comply with directives, exaggerated emotional responses, and increased interest in violence or weapons.

Fifty-three percent of workplace shooters had mental health concerns; 18% had been abused as children or witnessed abuse; and 49% had carried out their crime with weapons they had legally purchased.

Thirty-nine percent of workplace shooters were white, while 53% were minorities. The average age of workplace shooters was 37, much higher than shooters who carried out killings at schools (18) or in restaurants or bars (33).

Number of shooters by age

Years old

Workplace shooting victims

Oct. 23, 1967 Richard Davenport • Elmer Weaver • Donald Walden • Allan Barrett • Carman Edwards • Floyd Quiggle Sept. 23, 1970 Sandra L. Peters • Patricia Chromik • Linda D. Willis • Mary An Reinisch June 21, 1972 Robert Bertone • Joseph Boyd • Joseph A. DePalma • Theodore G. Hall • Charles Merkel • Stephen Robinson Feb. 14, 1977 Allen McLeod • Frederick J. Holmes • Joseph E. Hicks • James Greene • Pariyarathu Varghese June 17, 1978 Cecilia Bagley • Dorothy Johnston • Robert Lee • John O’Dell • Danny Linn Aug. 9, 1982 Dave Bahl • Wyvonne Kohler • Martin Douglas Moran • Moody Charles Smith • Richard Svoboda • Eddie Eugene Ulrich Feb. 3, 1983 Christine Leacock • Jacob Zimmer • unidentified 20-year-old male • unidentified 12-year-old female March 16, 1985 Donald Abbot • John Coligan • Paul Gabelt • Ralph Tomaro Aug. 20, 1986 Patricia Chambers • Judy Denney • Richard C. Esser • Patricia Gabbard • Jonna Ruth Gragert • Patty Jean Husband • William Miller • Kenneth W. Morey • Betty Jarred • Leroy Orrin Phillips • Jerry Ralph Pyle Jr. • Paul Michael Rockne • Thomas W. Shader Jr. • Patti Welch Feb. 16, 1988 Ronald Doney • Lawrence Kane • Helen Lamparter • Glenda Moritz • Ronald Steven Reed • Joseph Lawrence Silva • Wayne “Buddy” Williams Jr. Sept. 14, 1989 Richard “Dickie” Barger • Kenneth Fentress • William Ganote • James Husband • Sharon Needy • Paul Sallee • James Wible • Lloyd White • unidentified person Oct. 10, 1991 Cornelius Kasten • Donald McNaught • Carol Ott • Joseph M. VanderPaauw • Nov. 14, 1991 Mary Benincasa • Christopher Carlisle • Keith Cszewski • Rose Proos Dec. 2, 1993 Richard Bateman • James E. O’Brien • Anna Velasco • Phillip Villegas • Dec. 14, 1993 Sylvia Crowell • Benjamin Grant • Margaret Kohlbert • Colleen O'Connor June 20, 1994 Thomas Brigham • Alan London • Christine McCaren • Anita Linder April 4, 1995 Wendy P. Gilmore • Derek Harrison • Joann Rossler • Walter Rossler • Richard Tomlinson July 19, 1995 Neil Carpenter • Anthony Gain • James Walton • Marty Wakefield Feb. 9, 1996 Joseph Belotto • Kenneth A. Brunjes • Mark A. Bretz • Joseph T. Clifford • Donald L. Moon Jr. April 24, 1996 Stan Adams • Dwight Craft • Merideth Moree • Rick Robbins • Glenda Tornes Sept. 15, 1997 Ernest Leonard Filyaw • Charles Griffeth • David Moore • Esther Sheryl Wood Dec. 3, 1997 Frank Dosso • George Gonsalves • Diane Patisso • George Patisso Dec. 19, 1997 Hal Bierlein • Wayne Allen Bowers • Michael James Kelley • Paul Edward White March 6, 1998 Otho Brown • Michael Logan • Linda A. Blogoslawski Mlynarczyk • Frederick Rubelmann III • July 29, 1999 Leigh Ann Barton • Matthew Barton • Mychelle Barton • Russell J. Brown • Dean Delawalla • Joseph J. Dessert • Kevin Dial • Jamshid Havash • Vadewattee Muralidhara • Edward Quinn • Allen Tenenbaum • Scott A. Webb Nov. 2, 1999 Jason Balatico • Ford Kanehira • Ronald Kataoka • Ronald Kawamae • Melvin Lee • Peter Mark • John Sakamoto Dec. 30, 1999 Jose R. Aguilar • Barbara Carter • George C. Jones • Eric Pedroso • Dolores Perdomo March 20, 2000 Roberto Jimenez Jr. • Dennis Lee • Augustin Villasenor • Benjamin Villasenor • Rhoda Wheeler Dec. 26, 2000 Jennifer Bragg Capobianco • Janis Hagerty • Louis Javelle • Rose Manfredi • Paul Marceau • Cheryl Troy • Craig Wood Feb. 5, 2001 Michael Brus • Daniel T. Dorsch • William Garcia • Robert E. Wehrheim Sept. 8, 2001 George Bernardino • Derek Glimstad • Marsha Jackson • Nikolay Popovich • Nina Susu March 22, 2002 Dave Arpasi • John Contadeluci • Robert Downs Jr. • Craig Schafer Feb. 25, 2003 Benjamin Ferguson • Billy Knox Sr. • Billy Knox Jr. • David Seiler July 8, 2003 DeLois Bailey • Sam Cockrell • Micky Fitzgerald • Lynette McCall • Charlie Miller • Thomas Willis Aug. 27, 2003 Calvin Ramsey • Robert Taylor • Juan Valles • Alan Weiner • Daniel Weiner • Howard Weiner July 2, 2004 Ardell Edwards • Lonnie Ellenberg • Jose Ibarra • Travis Nelson • Leonardo Rodriquez Jan. 30, 2006 Ze Fairchild • Beverly Graham • Nicola Grant • Maleka Higgins • Dexter Shannon • Guadalupe Swartz March 18, 2008 Dave Dubois • Ricardo Leal • Richard Leeds • Terry Majan June 25, 2008 Joshua Hinojosa • Trisha Mirelez • Israel Monroy • Kevin Taylor • Rachael Vasquez Nov. 5, 2009 Michael Grant Cahill • Libardo Eduardo Caraveo • Justin Michael DeCrow • John P. Gaffaney • Frederick Greene • Jason Dean Hunt • Amy Sue Krueger • Aaron Thomas Nemelka • Michael S. Pearson • Russell Gilbert Seager • Francheska Velez • Juanita L. Warman • Kham See Xiong Aug. 3, 2010 William C. Ackerman • Bryan Cirigliano • Francis Fazio Jr. • Louis J. Felder • Victor James • Edwin Kennison Jr. • Craig Pepin • Douglas Scruton Sept. 27, 2012 Keith Basinski • Jacob Beneke • Rami Cooks • Ron Edberg • Reuven Rahamim • Eric Rivers Sept. 16, 2013 Michael Arnold • Martin Bodrog • Arthur Daniels • Sylvia Frasier • Kathy Gaarde • John Roger Johnson • Mary Francis Knight • Frank Kohler • Vishnu Shalchendia Pandit • Kenneth Bernard Proctor • Gerald L. Read • Richard Michael Ridgell Dec. 2, 2015 Robert Adams • Isaac Amanios • Bennetta Betbadal • Harry Bowman • Sierra Clayborn • Juan Espinoza • Aurora Godoy • Shannon Johnson • Daniel Kaufman • Damian Meins • Tin Nguyen • Nicholas Thalasinos • Yvette Velasco • Michael Wetzel June 5, 2017 Kevin Clark • Kevin Lawson • Brenda Montanez-Crespo • Jeffrey Roberts • Robert Snyder Sept. 12, 2018 Petra Maribel Bolanos De Casarez • Eliseo Cazares • Manuel Contreras • Laura Garcia • Antonio Valdez • Feb. 15, 2019 Russell Beyer • Clayton Parks • Vicente Juarez • Josh Pinkard • Trevor Wehner May 31, 2019 Laquita C. Brown • Ryan Keith Cox • Tara Welch Gallagher • Mary Louise Gayle • Alexander Mikhail Gusev • Joshua A. Hardy • Michelle Langer • Richard H. Nettleton • Katherine A. Nixon • Christopher Kelly Rapp • Herbert Snelling • Robert Williams

* Includes victims who died as a result of the shooting, in some cases decades later due to injuries suffered at the scene.