Co-worker stops Workplace Murder

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Orange TargetThe name Colleen Hufford may not mean anything to you. For whatever reason, this story disappeared from the news pretty quickly – perhaps because it didn’t involve naked celebrities, schoolchildren, or an assault rifle.

In case you missed it, a recently suspended worker at a Vaughan Foods processing plant came from behind the 54-year-old Hufford with a large bladed knife that he brought from home, and sliced her head off. But before he could do the same to 43-year-old Traci Johnson, the company’s chief operating officer, Mark Vaughan, shot him, stopping the attack.

The September 24, 2014 incident apparently was triggered when the murderer was suspended after Johnson initiated a complaint against him. And this wasn’t the first time the murdered became violent. Police records show that he had a history of violence. He was convicted in January 2011 of multiple felony drug offenses, assault and battery on a police officer and escape from detention. Because of the way that Huffard was murdered, the local police called in the FBI to assist in the investigation.

Dawn Perlmutter, director of the Symbol Intelligence Group wrote up an analysis of the actual event and believes that this was not an act of pure workplace violence but is a textbook case of Individual Extremist Religion Inspired Homicide. But the driving force behind the murder and attempted murder is immaterial to my interest in the case.

You see, if the company’s COO hadn’t shot the murderer, the killings would have continued. Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel agrees, saying “There is every reason to believe that the lives of untold others were saved who would have been targeted by the suspect if it hadn’t been for Vaughan’s actions” – and this is what interests me.

In most instances, shooters have taken their own lives, been shot by police, or surrendered when forced with a confrontation by law enforcement. According to New York City Police Department (NYPD) statistics, 46 percent of active shooter incidents are ended by the application of force by police or security, 40 percent end in the shooter’s suicide, 14 percent of the time the shooter surrenders or, in less than 1 percent of cases, the violence ends with the attacker fleeing.

In a previous blog entry, I talked about sheepdogs and the mindset and training needed to kill someone who is intent on causing great bodily harm to you, your friends and loved ones, or even your co-workers, before they kill you or someone else. The point is that Mark Vaughan saved Traci Johnson’s life by shooting someone actively trying to kill her.

Now it turns out that Mr. Vaughn has been a reserve deputy with the Oklahoma County sheriff’s office since 2010. Deputy Vaughan is a card-carrying sheepdog. And as a law enforcement officer, federal law allows him to carry a gun when off duty.

In that same blog, I ask how many active or retired peace officers are working at your organization, but cannot carry a firearm due to company policy? Is there a specific reason for that policy or is it because a sheep in the executive staff is afraid of guns?

People like Deputy Vaughan have the mindset and the training to be sheepdogs and you should offer them every opportunity to protect their coworkers by allowing them to carry while at work.

But not every sheepdog is a law enforcement officer. Citizens from all walks of life can become a sheepdog with the proper mindset and training, and many states will issue a permit to carry a concealed firearm to any law-abiding citizen that applies and passes the required training.

Would your workplace firearms policy have prevented someone like Deputy Vaughan from protecting other employees from a murderer? What about employees who have had extensive firearms training but are not law enforcement officers? Can they protect your sheep against wolves like the one that murdered Colleen Hufford?

With the increased fighting against ISIS and the knowledge that the White House-targeted Khorasan cell was plotting an “imminent” attack against the United States or Europe, wouldn’t this be a good time to ensure that you have enough trained sheepdogs guarding your flock?

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