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A Workplace Shooting Is Every HR Professional's Fear

A man with a beard looking out of a window.

​HR professionals' jobs are more dangerous than many realize. An HR manager and an HR intern were among five employees killed at a warehouse in Aurora, Ill., on Feb. 15 by a worker who was being fired. How can HR professionals and others in the workplace protect themselves? We've gathered articles on the shooting and preventing workplace violence from SHRM Online and other trusted media outlets. 

Please visit SHRM's resource page on Workplace Violence for guidance on making your workplace safer.

Employee About to Lose Job Took Gun to Work

Gary Martin, an employee for 15 years at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Ill., took a gun he wasn't supposed to have due to a felony conviction to a job he was about to lose and shot and killed five co-workers during a termination meeting, according to police. He also fired on police officers, wounding five of the first officers to arrive on the scene, and was killed in a short gunfight. (AP)

Two Victims Were in HR

Trevor Wehner, a student at Northern Illinois University who was on his first day of an internship with the HR department, was among those killed. So was Clayton Parks, a human resources manager who was the father of an eight-month-old son. The others killed were Josh Pinkard, the manager of the company warehouse where the shooting took place; Vicente Juarez, a stock room operator; and Russell Beyer, a mold operator. The company was unaware of Martin's prior felony conviction, as a background check did not uncover it. (The New York Times)

Victims' Stories

Wehner, a dean's list student at Northern Illinois University's College of Business, was an avid sports fan and former member of his high school's varsity basketball team. Parks graduated from Northern Illinois University's business college in 2014. Pinkard's wife noted that her husband "was dying and found the clarity of mind for just a second to send me one last text to let me know he would always love me. This unbelievable person was robbed from us." Juarez had lived with his wife, adult daughter and four grandchildren, and also had two adult sons and four other grandchildren. Beyer, father of two, was a union chairman who had been with the company for 20 years. (The Chicago Tribune)

All Employers Need a Workplace Violence Plan

Employers should plan to protect employees in the event of workplace violence. A zero-tolerance-of-violence policy is a good place to start. Don't be afraid to seek outside help. If you are terminating someone who you think may become violent, hire security. And call police if the situation warrants it. (SHRM Online)

Should Managers Be Armed in the Workplace?

News of mass shootings have left many wondering what can be done to prevent or mitigate the consequences of violent acts. Some have wondered whether a few trained managers should be allowed to carry guns at work. There are many disadvantages to this. An innocent bystander could be injured or a gun could be taken from and used against the manager. A more effective approach might include hiring more security guards. (SHRM Online)

What If Employees Want to Bring Guns to Work?

Employees may want to bring guns to work to protect themselves after hearing about mass shootings in workplaces. Some state laws give employees the right to store a firearm in a locked personal vehicle's trunk or glovebox in the company's parking lot—about half of states have such laws. Employers should develop policies on workplace violence prevention, weapons in the workplace and emergency procedures. (SHRM Online)

[SHRM members-only multistate coverage: 
Guns in Parking Lots Laws by State]

Police Presence

If an employer suspects that an employee may become violent, then call the police for support during termination meetings or other potentially dangerous interactions. (HR Magazine)


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.