When Hassan Malik Nadal, an active duty U.S. Army psychiatrist awaiting deployment to Iraq from Fort Hood, Texas, was found guilty of shooting and killing 13 soldiers and wounding 32 others, the federal government labeled the shootings workplace violence. They denied customary awards, such as Purple Hearts to those killed or wounded in action. The government’s decision was found offensive to many Americans given the shooter’s avowed support for radical Islamic causes. Public opinion caused the Department of Defense to reverse itself and ultimately award Purple Hearts to those who earned them at the hands of a terrorist at Fort Hood. The Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center agrees with the awards ultimately made to our troops and only regrets that the decision to award needed to be based on public pressure. In addition to the Order of the Purple Heart awards, the victims have become eligible for medical care and disability benefits for their combat injuries. It took 5 years for the White House and Defense Department to honor the nation’s debt to these soldiers.
The recent killing of a soldier’s wife and a responding police officer by an active duty U.S. Army sergeant is distinguished from the Nadal case based on the information publicly available, It appears that this homicide occurred under civilian jurisdiction involving the shooter’s civilian wife with the shooter’s military issued gun. The soldier also killed a young female police officer upon her arrival at the scene with two fellow officers who were seriously wounded. It is an added tragedy when we lose a police officer, a member of the military or a first responder in the line of duty. Death is part of the contract entered into by the men and women who volunteer to protect those of us who choose a different and tamer kind of employment. Many of us never anticipate dangers that are suddenly revealed in the workplace with deadly effect. Certainly we never expected intentional murderous acts would be awaiting us.
In Hesston, Kansas, 38 year-old Cedric Ford pulled his truck up to his employer’s place of business, Excel Industries, where, without any obvious motive, Ford armed with a long gun and a hand gun, opened fire on coworkers injuring 14 and killing 2 before being killed by responding police officers. No definite motive is known but it has been alleged that a girlfriend had an order of protection served on the shooter a couple of hours earlier and might have motivated the shooting. Ford does have a police record for burglary, grand theft, carrying a concealed weapon and other lesser charges. Ten of the 14 people injured by Ford are in serious condition.
In Kalamazoo, Michigan an Uber limo driver picked up a passenger, and after receiving a telephone call he began driving erratically through the streets according to his passenger who jumped from the car and ran away. The 45-year-old driver was described throughout the ordeal as calm while picking up fares and shooting 8 people at 3 locations. After almost 7 hours on the road, Jason Dalton, the shooter, was apprehended by police who seized a semi-automatic handgun. Dalton had no known record and was not known to the police. Neighbors described the Daltons as a “typical American family.” Dalton was said to have undergone a required background check by his employer.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act mandates that employers have a duty to provide workplaces for their employees reasonably free from violence hazards. Employers who do not take reasonable steps to prevent or abate reasonably foreseeable risks of violence.