Fatal Virginia Shooting Spurs Workplace Violence Discussion

Wednesday, August 26th 2015, 11:52 pm
By: News On 6

Wednesday, a TV reporter and a photographer were interviewing a woman on a morning newscast when, out of nowhere, a man opened fire.

Oklahomans, along with the rest of the country are in shock over the senseless act of violence as the shooting killed 24-year-old reporter Allison Parker and 27-year-old photojournalist Adam Ward.

Police identified the shooter as 41-year-old Vester Flanagan. He posted his view of the shooting on social media. Police said he shot himself as they closed in on his car about 200 miles away. He later died.

8/26/2015 Related Story: Man Suspected Of Murdering Virginia TV Crew On-Air Shoots Self

The local Chamber of Commerce president, Vicki Gardner was being interviewed at the time was badly wounded but expected to survive.

Flanagan was a former employee of WDBJ where Parker and Ward worked. He went by Bryce Williams on air and was fired from the station in 2013; police had to escort him from the building.

The shooting has many people talking about workplace violence and the Mental Association of Oklahoma says there are red flags employees need to look out for and report immediately if they see someone acting out.

Even though the TV community is rather small in Tulsa, every person who works in the industry can relate to the shooting in some way.

It started out as just a normal day on the job for a morning show TV crew, doing multiple live shots at the same location near Roanoke, Virginia.

After the live broadcast of the violent shooting aired, the shooter and former reporter at the station posted his own footage online.

Mike Brose with Mental Health Association of Oklahoma said, "It’s a very troubling moment in a lot of ways for all the culture in your industry, as well as in the culture right now, there are a lot of things that have happened."

Brose said violence in the workplace is more common than people realize.

“It rarely or never goes to the extent like this, although it does happen, it doesn't normally happen during a live TV broadcast," he said.

The General Manager of WDBJ, Jeffrey Marks, said Williams was let go in 2013 due to anger issues, and he didn't take the news well.

"Employees, as a general rule, have lots of ways - verbal and non-verbal - letting us know they aren't happy about something," Brose said.

He said there's one thing in the workplace which should never be ignored.

“Any time you have a threat, a workplace threat, threats have to be taken absolutely serious," he said.

It should be reported to Human Resources and even law enforcement if necessary.

As for Williams’ mental health, we may never know what was truly going on inside his head, but Brose said something should be taken away from the tragedy.

"There are lessons and things that need to be gleaned, and while we don't want to operate and live in fear, we do want to be cautious, and thoughtful and reflective on these types of things," he said.

Brose also said people should limit their exposure to the video footage of the actual shooting.