My sister is a survivor of workplace violence. This week at her office, a Columbine situation occurred in which 2 of her good friends were shot. She works at a small company, and everyone knows one another. She has been there for seven years - through the good times and challenging times. This company has been branded a top workplace in the city for several years in a row. The people who work there go out for drinks after work at least once a week. People voluntarily hang out together in her company.
On Thursday, my sister's colleague/boss had a meeting with her in the morning where they joked, talked about upcoming plans, and had a nice time. Allegedly, immediately afterwards, he then went shot the CEO in the stomach and head, and then himself in the head. We haven't heard if there were a suicide note. The CEO may survive. He might be a vegetable. We don't know at this point.
The colleague was a really nice guy who has been with the company 25 years. He was staunchly publicly against guns, did not own guns, nor have a license for guns. He was married and had 3 grown up children. He was the developer and creator of the software the company sells & held Master degrees in psychology and computer science. He was a funny, sweet, nice, thoughtful guy. In fact, when my sister talked about work, his name often came up in our conversations because he was a lot of fun & a reason she stayed there.
It has been a few days, and the same questions keep racing through my head throughout the day and especially in the wee hours of the morning.
What happened??? What would cause someone to completely derail like this? Where would he get the illegal gun? Who was he? How could he go from being Mr Jokey with my sister to a killer a few minutes later? How did this happen? How did they miss the signs? Was he in his right mind? Could it have been the CEOs gun? They supposedly struggled... how would the police know?
Then my thoughts descend further into bigger questions - Do we ever really know people? Do we know what people are capable of? Can I trust anyone? Could I do something like this in the right situation?
I know I am not the most logical person in the world, being the INFJ that I am. Sure, I usually make good decisions (J) but the NF is a dominant personality trait. I look at Sofie in the midst of temper tantrums, and she is definitely NOT logical in those moments. Sofie will lash out, kick, scream, hit, scratch, bite, twist, spit, and act like a maniac if she doesn't get her way. Do we ever lose that urge? Is my perception of society really veiled with violence that I choose to believe doesn't exist? On tough days at work, when I was going to cross fit, the trainers would bring out the lead pipes and tires so we could beat them until we are tired. Is that the same urge that affected my sister's boss in his last moment?
Is it that guns make death too easily accessible in our insane moments? If the guy had the option to bring a lead pipe to work instead, would he have beat him senseless? Or would he use a knife in the workplace?
I am feeling haunted by these questions. There is no real answer.
Of course we are at very low risk of having a life altering event occur at work. Downsizing the organization always leaves an opening for retaliation. As a manager within my organization, there have been a few times in which I was worried about the possible domino effect of making changes & possible outcomes by changing people around. Luckily nothing ever happened to me (besides death threat phone calls and people stealing my hub caps).
So as I head into the next work week, I am sending many prayers for all the families affected by the tragic shooting. For the CEO who might not live, his family, the shooter who will be remembered for this heinous act, his family, and all the staff at my sister's company who have to go back into the office and deal with the fact that the office was filled with blood and someone died an ugly death down the hall. I hope they will survive, keep their jobs, and that no one will fall into the pit of despair.