Phoenix Office Shooting: Why Is Workplace Violence On The Rise?

Douglas Harmon killed a man at an office complex in Phoenix. Why is workplace violence on the rise?

The news of another office shooting raises the question: Why is workplace violence on the rise? On Wednesday, a gunman, 70-year old Arthur Douglas Harmon, allegedly shot and killed 48-year old Steve Singer, CEO of the Scottsdale-based Fusion Contact Centers LLC, a call center company. Fusion allegedly had failed to pay Harmon $17,000 of a $47,000 contract to refurbish the offices, according to the Associated Press.

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Harmon was pursuing a legal claim of $20,000 in damages when he allegedly turned violent, killing Singer and injuring two other coworkers. According to the New York Daily News, a body was found Thursday in a Mesa, Ariz.-parking lot outside Phoenix matching Harmon's description.

According to research from Dr. Larry Barton, an expert on crisis management and president of the Bryn Mawr, Pa.-based American College, this case is just one of a growing number. Dr. Barton, who collects data from his Fortune 500 clients, says workplace homicides are up 50 percent in the last year.

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So what's behind the increase?
In an interview earlier this year with AOL Jobs, Barton connects the uptick to the prolonged economic crisis. "Many of us who thought the [economic downturn] was going to be a short-term hiccup," which "gave us temporary comfort." But, he noted, it has "become an ulcer."

Certainly, the stubbornly high unemployment rate -- just under 8 percent -- has not helped. Prolonged frustration seemed to fuel the past year's most high-profile workplace shooting incident, when 53-year old Jeffrey Johnson shot and killed his former co-worker, 41-year old Steve Ercolino, in August outside the Empire State Building. A year earlier, Johnson had been let go by Hazan Imports, the fashion accessories store, after a feud he had with Ercolino that led both me to file harassment complaints against each other.

This story was updated at 3:30 PM ET with news about the potential discovery of Harmon's body.


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Filed under: Employment News
Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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