Workplace violence perpetrators are…average

Workplace violence (WPV) perpetrators are on the average side of life. Their profiles of who they are and conduct themselves are averaged together to gain a profile who is most likely to commit such a crime and wound, maim, murder, and traumatize, literally, millions of people.

While the signs listed here are the most frequently observed signs of a perpetrator, they are by no means the only ones. Because everyone is different, it is by no means the exclusive and definitive list. Just as many WPV incidents can and will be carried out by people that don’t fit comfortably into this list. Therefore, we must be constantly aware and be willing to report something amiss.


The age of a perpetrator will usually be between 25 and 45 years of age. But in recent years we’ve seen people as young as 14 and old as 70 that will commit an incident, the Alexandria, VA. shooter on the 14th was 66. The same holds true all the way around. I believe the ages are expanding as we go forward.

Ethnicity & Gender:

The overwhelming majority of incidents, 96%, are committed by white males. There are numerous incidents where I can point you to a female or a person of a different ethnicity. From black, Asian, Hispanic, or Arabic descent who committed a crime in a business or school.

From the Arabic woman who attempted to kill co-workers in Prescott, AZ. in December 2016 to the Iraqi native who bombed a Social Security office in Casa Grande, AZ. injuring several people.

Weapon of choice:

The majority of people, mainly those in the media and law enforcement, believe that most WPV/SV incidents occur with firearms. They do not! Only the incidents that get the headlines are committed with firearms. More incidents are committed with fists, words, hammers, screwdrivers, pencils, and coffee cups, than are with firearms. As it has been said for nearly 40 years “If it bleeds it leads”.

Family & work Stress:

Serious stress in someone’s family life is also a contributing factor. Stress, as I’m sure you know, can come from many different sources. From a child’s illness, financial, divorce, and so many other items. If you look at most incidents there is stress of some kind that is among their reasoning’s for the crime.

If you then look at the stress placed on individuals while at work… Pay raises nearly non-existent, work harder and longer, doing two, three, or more jobs. Sometimes these people will be on a new job not knowing anyone or one that has taken them far from home in a different city or state.

Mental Illness:

I have not known a single case of WPV or SV in the past couple of years where the perception is that the person must have had a mental illness to commit such an atrocity. In many instances they do, but not in all cases. Unless you are ready to classify blinding rage and anger as a mental illness…

Perception of disparate treatment:

I have not read any incidents of WPV/SV that hasn’t included this aspect of the profile. Everyone that I have read/heard about has perceived that they received disparate treatment from co-workers, supervisors, managers, vendors, and so on. Unfortunately, it is usually only their perception of that fact that makes it true…to them.


The proverbial lone wolf. The people who commit these crimes, whether it be at a business, school hallway, parking lots, sidewalk, or in someone’s home will normally be perceived as a loner. From sitting by themselves at lunch, breaks or just never socializing with others at work, study times, or when out and about.

They appear to be happy or satisfied sitting by themselves, but they are not. In some cases they are just painfully shy. In any event, they avoid other people for innumerable reasons. Illnesses, including physical & mental or being a victim of domestic violence.

Anger Issues:

This profile issue is becoming more and more prevalent as children get older and more parents have to work outside the home at more than one job. The number of shootings inside shopping malls and so on is a good indicator, especially the proliferation of planned disruptions via social media (December 2016 after Christmas).

Far too many children, and consequently adults, have never been   allowed to fail and the parents feel guilty for having to work outside the home. They don’t know how to handle their anger and rage and they lash out at whatever is close by. Unfortunately innocent people get in the way.

Just as unfortunate is that too many children never learn that failure is a part of life. Everything is there for them and them alone. Therefore there is a sense of entitlement that they can do no wrong and they want what they want. And they want it NOW!


In the cases of locking down a profile for these perpetrators, they are included in My 22 warning signs, and then you’ll see many other facets of someone who may become violent in the workplace or school. As with those signs, we all have to be able to ‘connect the dots’ and not be afraid to tell or talk to someone about the co-worker, significant other, student, or whoever. Be they a friend or not, someone has to say something and not just ignore or blow off the signs.

If you do that, then you could be leaving yourself and school/business in for a bloody and traumatic beginning or end of the day. Possibly at lunch time? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful to have your lunch with an incident of WPV/SV?

Robert D. Sollars assists businesses and their employees to lessen their risk of WPV as well as other security/customer service related issues. You can follow him on twitter @robertsollars2.

                              I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

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