The details of the northeast Phoenix office shooting early Tuesday sounded disturbingly familiar to Mesa business consultant Lynne McClure.
A man walked into the office of a small company. An argument. Gunshots. Two bodies.
“It is familiar. It doesn’t make it any less tragic, but sadly, it’s pretty familiar,” said McClure, an expert of workplace violence and the author of the book, “Risky Business: Managing Employee Violence in the Workplace.”
Paul Chait, 33, and Martin Garcia, 33, died in the shooting at the office of Trans-Road West, a trucking brokerage firm Tuesday morning. Police arrested suspect Howard Colin Fisk, 33, hours later in Shiprock, N.M.
The three knew each other at Chaparral High School in the 1980s, police said.
The shooting fits a decadelong trend of on-the-job mayhem, McClure said.
“It really started 10 to 12 years ago on a large scale and it’s just escalated every year. There was always violence in the workplace, but always in terms of fistfights or one-on-one grudges out in the parking lot or things like that,” she said.
The relatively new aspect to office conflicts is that people are using guns to resolve them.
McClure attributes the rise to two factors:
1) There are many more violence-producing drugs floating around the workplace than ever before.
Passe drugs, such as marijuana, generally merely cause drops in productivity. Avant-garde dope, such as crystal methamphetamine, causes drops in the workforce.
It should be noted that Fisk is a meth user, according to court documents filed by his brother in December.
2) Violence has become a form of entertainment, which has desensitized entire generations of co-workers and customers.
“The younger a person is, the more normal violence has been made to look,” McClure said.
“You and I know that it’s bad. We can go to watch a violent movie and we know that you’re not supposed to do that. But if you’ve seen this stuff since you’re 4 years old on your video games, this is normal to you,” she said.
Violence spills over in movies, music and video games.
McClure has put considerable thought into cold-blooded business practices.
The titles of her latest books are “Angry Men: Managing Anger in an Unforgiving World” and “Angry Women: Stop Letting Anger Control Your Life.”
Preventing workplace violence is difficult. Despite a decade of headline-grabbing office shootings around the country, many business leaders refuse to recognize violence as a legitimate concern.
“A lot of people, especially in small firms, tend not to think in those terms,” McClure said. “So in a sense, it’s their innocence or their naivety. That’s one way to say it. Another is their denial.”