After shooting of two journalists, how can we prevent future workplace violence?

Posted at 8:28 PM, Aug 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-27 20:48:14-04

Norfolk, Va. - There are still many questions after the tragic shooting death of two WDBJ journalists, including how can we prevent a future tragedy.

NewsChannel 3 sat down with Norfolk State University assistant professors of psychology, Dr. Andrew Franklin and Dr. Karen White, to get some answers. They could not say exactly what triggered Vester Flanagan to fatally shoot Alison Parker and Adam Ward on Wednesday, but they say there are usually warning signs before a violent act.

"There's some issue with dysfunction, there's some issue with deviation from the norm, it's distressful to them, and then they're at risk of being dangerous to others," says Dr. Franklin.

Those emotions can come off in various ways in the workplace, according to Dr. Karen White.

"Handles criticism poorly, blaming others for his mistakes, they're disrespectful towards authority or supervisors."

Flanagan was known for a series of anger and behavioral problems in workplaces, according to his former employees. Court documents show that WDBJ did meet with him many times and told him to seek counseling.

Dr. Franklin says the training should come before the trouble, through communication, training in the workplace on how to de-escalate situations, and programs to refer people to if they are struggling. However, he does not think employees should be constantly paranoid or suspicious, just cautious.

"Sometimes people exhibit what may be deemed as bizarre or eccentric behavior and it might not be anything," he says. "Be concerned if you see a pattern of this type of behavior."