Shooting renews concerns about workplace violence

SAN DIEGO - Roanoke reporter Alison Parker and photographer Adam Ward were doing a live interview for a feature story about a celebration at a Virginia lake when they were shot and killed.

It was far from a war zone but it became a killing floor.

San Diego State University lecturer Wendy Patrick is an expert on workplace violence. 

"When you think about a news reporter gunned down in the line of duty, you think it must be in some other part of the world to be in that kind of danger," said Patrick.

The pair were shot down by a former co-worker with a grudge; a man who'd been on-air; trusted by the television audience. 

"We invite news anchors into our homes every night so I can imagine in that community, there's a lot of disappointment and gut-wrenching terror that this man, who people probably enjoyed watching on the news, was capable of this," said Patrick.

Patrick, who is also a San Diego County deputy district attorney, said there were warning signs.

Vester Lee Flanagan, also known as Bryce Williams, bought his gun two days after the Charleston church shootings in June, when nine people were massacred. 

These were classic copy-cat killings. 

"That kind of thing can sometimes be a trigger; and we know that in this case because that's what it says in the manifesto--that this man saw and said that was one of the things that drove him over the edge to make the decision this morning to engage in this senseless carnage."

Back in 1992, Robert Mack stunned San Diego when he shot and killed two people at a General Dynamics plant; a supervisor and a labor negotiator. 

Mack had been fired by the defense contractor after 23 years on the job.

He told the parole board that his job meant more to him than his wife and kids, and the depression and stress was tearing his life apart.

Patrick sees a correlation with Bryce Williams. 

"Their whole identity is tied up in their occupation and you can imagine how devastating it can be if somebody's whole world is their job--to be fired."


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