Going Postal or I Hate Mondays? Examining Drivers of Targeted Violence against the Workplace.

Dr Emily Corner1 Mr Matthew Ferriman 1
1Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

According to practitioners, those classified as grievance fuelled violent actors often present with intensely personal grievances which have been sparked by a perceived injustice, express their grievance and intentions known to those close to them, and present with a higher than expected prevalence of mental health problems. Despite the advancements in practice, research literature specifically examining grievance fuelled violence as a holistic concept is currently constrained to theoretical propositions and descriptive analyses demographics of small n datasets.

To counter this issue, research is able to offer a set of offenders that could be subsumed into this classification. Spree killers are often precipitated by an event that exacerbates an existing grievance, they often leak their intentions to others, and they also often present with mental health problems. Although there are several ‘types’ of targets for spree killers, an FBI study of active shooters between 2000 and 2013 highlighted that the most commonly identified targets were workplaces (56%) and schools (24.4%). Given the nature of these environments (potential offenders spend large portions of their time within them) there are opportunities for intervention not possible in other types of spree killers. For this reason, and the potential for harm, offenders targeting schools and workplaces are of particular interest to the threat assessors. Given this, this presentation critically examines the grievances and planning behaviours of a series of workplace- and school-based spree killers active in the US between 1995 and 2014. The results indicate opportunities for threat assessment and management.


Dr Emily Corner is a Lecturer of Criminology at the Centre for Social Research and Methods at the Australian National University. Prior to joining the ANU, Emily was a Research Associate at the department of Security and Crime Science at University College London, working on projects examining lone and group-based terrorism, radicalisation, mass murderers, and fixated individuals. Her doctoral research focused on examining mental disorders and terrorist behaviour, and won the Terrorism Research Initiative’s Thesis award in 2016. She has published in leading psychology, forensic science, criminology, threat assessment, and political science journals. She has worked on research projects funded by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the European Union, the National Institute of Justice, the Department of Defence, and the Department of Home Affairs. Prior to her doctoral research she worked across step-down, low, and medium secure psychiatric hospitals, in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

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