Executive Steven LaVoie might not have thought twice about a Chicago shooting once again making the headlines, but he probably would never have guessed that the shooting would be of another kind. This shooting was a workplace shooting; his workplace. At about 10 a.m. on Thursday, July 31, 2014, however, that is just what happened. LaVoie is the CEO of ArrowStream, a supply chain management technology company.That day, he had agreed to meet with Chief Information Officer Anthony DeFrances, who had recently been informed of his demotion. DeFrances, 60, was allegedly despondent over the news. During the meeting, DeFrances produced a semi-automatic weapon. A scuffle ensued and the CEO was critically injured. DeFrances then shot and killed himself. Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital authorities report that LaVoie, who sustained gunshots to the head and to the stomach, is in critical but stable condition.
This just a day after the CBS Chicago affiliate reported that violence in Chicago has decreased significantly from 20 years ago. Jim Williams, native Chicago newsman, reported that Chicago experienced 414 murders in 2013 down from 930 in 1994. The difference and the reason why so many people think of Chicago as the murder capital of the country when in reality, it is number 21 on the list, comes from the increased media attention and the ability of social media to get news and information out faster than ever before. Little consolation to Chicago’s shooting victims, reportedly 1103 in the first six months of 2014, and their families. This likely means even less to LaVoie and his loved ones none of whom probably ever imagined that he would be a victim of gun violence.
Instead, Chicago executives DeFrances and LaVoie have unwittingly shed more light on another kind of shooting. Workplace violence, something most Americans might not have feared 50 years ago, has recently seen more and more of the spotlight. From the moment in August 1986 when 44-year-old mail carrier, Patrick Henry Sherrill, went on a murderous rampage killing 14 of his coworkers and injuring six others before killing himself, Americans have been put on notice. While most people would not deliberately place themselves at risk, many would never guess that just going to work could be harmful to one’s health.
Although the phrase “Going postal” first appeared in a December 1993 article in the St. Petersburg Times, it was in May of 1993 after two separate violent incidents at post offices in two different parts of the country that most people began to use the term to define a disgruntled worker on the rampage. In many workplace shootings, an employee slighted in some manner, real or imagined, storms the workplace with the intent of extracting recompense from superiors, coworkers and any other unfortunate soul who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Recently in Atlanta, a 19-year-old FedEx employee opened fire on his colleagues shooting six people before turning the gun on himself. In January of 2010, in another horrific workplace shooting at the PENSKE facility in Georgia, three people were killed by a disgruntled employee. The list goes on.
Reports of shootings in Chicago seem to dominate the news recently. It seems as if incidents of gun violence in Chicago, the youngest killed this year a three-week-old baby, are reported almost every day. For two Chicago executives, however, the violence did not occur on the streets. It happened in the office, a place where it is always unexpected but just as tragic. This was a Chicago shooting of another kind.
By Constance Spruill