Thursday night’s mass shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility was America’s deadliest workplace shooting in more than a year. Experts say mass shootings of all kinds are on the rise, but those taking place at work are rare.
The coronavirus pandemic prompted many companies to instate remote work policies, which meant for the past year, the circumstances for a workplace shooting were not as common.
The last mass shooting at a workplace came at the onset of the pandemic in February 2020, when an employee shot and killed five people at Molson Coors headquarters in Milwaukee.
There have been 147 mass shootings in America in 2021 so far, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as having "a minimum of four victims shot, either injured or killed, not including any shooter who may also have been killed or injured in the incident."
From 2006 to early 2020, 90 people died in 13 workplace shootings, according to the Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University Mass Killings database.
Cincinnati psychologist Dr. Stuart Bassman, who is not involved in the investigation and has never met the suspect, said there are four factors that lead to scenarios like the shooting in Indianapolis: desolation, emptiness, anger and despair.
“They want to re-establish their self-esteem and self-worth by engaging in what they see as a powerful act,” Bassman said of perpetrators of mass violence.
To fill that emptiness, Bassman said, they lash out to feel “some sense of power.”
"For someone to act out in the manner in which the alleged murderer did lets us know that they were not able to connect with others in a meaningful way, and as a result of that they felt the only way that they could re-establish their self esteem was by exerting power and control,” Bassman said.
As more Americans head back to the workplace, including the FedEx employees who will walk back into that building, Bassman offers some advice.
"The first important part is a sense of safety and stability and not letting this act of violence, this heinous crime control them,” he said. "They can stand up, march into FedEx and say, ‘I will not be a victim anymore. I will be a survivor, I will be a survivor and I will support them.’"
“They need to grieve for what has been lost -- they need to grieve who has been lost."