Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Workplace Avenger: Florida Gunman Fit Profile

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Workplace Avenger: Florida Gunman Fit Profile

Article excerpt

HIS RAGE incubated for 14 months before Clifton McCree erupted,

changing from a churchgoing father to the latest entrant in a rapidly growing gallery: Workplace avenger.

On Friday, McCree shot five former co-workers to death then turned a gun on himself and committed suicide, police said.

Since 1985, the number of bosses killed each year by subordinates has doubled, according to data complied by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Each month, American workers are murdering an average of three to four supervisors.

Though this type of crime is still considered rare, it gets a lot of attention, because disgruntled employees often are not content simply to even the score with their former supervisor. They ambush the whole office.

"The avenging worker has decided life is not worth living, but before he goes he is going to eliminate everyone responsible for his problems," says Jack Levin, a professor of criminology at Northeastern University in Boston. "Whether it's the whole beach patrol or the whole post office or the entire Long Island Rail Road."

Though the settings and the number of victims vary, people who kill their colleagues share a disarmingly similar slate of traits.

Typically, they are not workers, but former employees. A few have quit in disgust. Most have been fired.

The great majority - more than 80 percent - are white. More than 95 percent are male. Most are middle-aged - baby boomers who entered the work force at a time when it was not unreasonable to expect to remain with the same company or employer until retirement.

"It used to be the case that if you worked in a job long enough, you were set for life," said Dr. Deanna Geddes, a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia who has conducted several studies on workplace aggression. "There is an increased emotional response associated with losing a job these days because it's so hard for anybody in their 40s to find a new one."

Workplace avengers are usually loners. Their weapon of choice is a semiautomatic gun - most have had access to and formal training in the use of firearms.

McCree, who family members say is an ex-Marine, matches the profile, except that he's black.

He may have had some weapons training. He worked part-time as a

security guard. State records didn't show a valid permit to carry a weapon.

He had 18 years with the city of Fort Lauderdale when he was fired in December 1994.

Neighbors say he was not neighborly: He rarely spoke.

There is one other common thread: Avengers often make threats.

Long before Joseph Wesbecker killed eight at a printing company in Louisville, Ky. in 1989, he had threatened his former co-workers. Dale Masi, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland-Baltimore who served as a expert witness in lawsuits filed against the company by victims' families, said the warning signs of impending violence were present - and ignored. …

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