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ABB shooting: Economy may play role in workplace violence

Timothy Hendron killed four coworkers and himself in the ABB shooting in St. Louis Thursday. He was involved in a lawsuit against the company regarding a dispute over retirement benefits.

Police cars are seen at the scene of a shooting where a gunman with an assault rifle walked into the ABB Power Plant Thursday, in St. Louis.

Jeff Roberson/AP

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The shooting at ABB Group in St. Louis Thursday that ended with four people dead, including the shooter, raises the prospect that the recession could be a strong contributor to workplace violence.

The Associated Press reports that the shooter, Timothy Hendron, was among several plant employees suing the company and its trustee, Fidelity Management Trust, for an unspecified amount over “unreasonable and excessive fees” related to their retirement benefits. The federal trial was already under way in Kansas City, Mo,. and was expected to last three weeks.

Mr. Hendron had worked at ABB, a company that makes electrical transformers, for 23 years.

Role of the recession

The downturn in the economy may be creating more circumstances that lead to violent outbursts, says Larry Chavez, an expert on workplace violence.

“There’s more pressure put on people recently because of the economy," he says. "More people have faced a dissolving of their whole career. It’s too hard to face for some people. When you have 23 years invested, that’s a lot."

Although there are no hard data connecting violence with economic downturns, periods of economic difficulty have been linked to increases in violent behavior.

For instance, a study released last March by the Florida Department of Children and Families revealed that the state saw an almost 40 percent increase in demand for domestic-violence centers, which it said was related to the poor economy.


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