Two die in [name] YMCA shootings

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“Two die in [name] YMCA shootings; Police say man who was being evicted from [city] facility shot worker, himself”

SMALL MID-WEST CITY: 01/23/2004 – A man who was being evicted from the YMCA in downtown [city] for having alcohol in his room shot and killed the agency's head of maintenance Thursday before turning the gun on himself, police said. YMCA property manager [name], 42, and resident [name], 69, both died in a sixth-floor hallway at the agency, at [address].

[Victim] and two other employees had gone to [assailant]'s room in the Y's residential area to evict him. A short time later, [assailant] armed himself with a handgun and came out into the hall shooting, [city] police Lt. [name] said.

The other two employees were able to flee into another room, but [victim] was shot in the hallway. The witness who called police said he heard three shots and looked out into the hall to see [assailant] standing over [victim]'s body. The witness then heard two more shots and saw [assailant] fall to the ground, [police lieutenant] said.

Police and paramedics arrived at the Y about 10:30 a.m., but both men died at the scene, he said. The [name] County coroner's office will perform autopsies today. At this time, the deaths appear to be a murder-suicide, said chief investigator [name].

[Victim] had been the Y's property manager for five years, leading the custodial staff and overseeing building maintenance, said [name], CEO of the YMCA [name]. He said [assailant], who also went by the name [alias], had been a resident of the agency's 97-room transitional housing center about five or six months.

Family members of [victim], reached by phone, did not want to comment.

[YMCA CEO] said the incident has shaken Y staffers, members and residents. The agency is providing them grief counseling. “He was a well-liked employee,” [YMCA CEO] said of [victim]. “This is hitting the staff very hard. He was a wonderful employee. Our deepest sympathies go out to the family.” He said [victim] was married and had two children – one in high school and one in college.

The Y canceled aerobics, swimming lessons, karate and other programs Thursday, although the shootings took place in the residential area, [YMCA CEO] said. Members and residents, nonetheless, were at the facility Thursday evening.

[YMCA CEO] said [assailant] was being evicted because he had not been following the agency's rules. Specifically, he had alcohol in his room Thursday morning. [YMCA CEO] said the man had not caused any trouble before this.


What we don’t know:

  • the extent, if any, of the screening process or background checks performed on potential residents
  • the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the alcohol
    • was the alcohol discovered by housekeeping or other staff while in the room?
    • was the resident seen bringing it into the building…was he challenged at that time?
    • did management receive a complaint from others?
  • the extent of the facility rules with regard to
    • restricted items (e.g., weapons, alcohol, etc.) and consequences for violation
    • room inspection rights
    • eviction protocols and procedures
  • the chemistry between the two deceased men
    • was their prior relationship friendly, neutral, guarded, strained, or…?
    • was this interaction originally passive, combative, explosive, or…?
  • why the manager had two staff members accompany him to perform the eviction…
    • were there indications or warning signs of a potentially violent response, or
    • was that standard eviction protocol?

What we do know:

  • two men, one a YMCA staff person and the other a resident, are tragically dead, apparently as the result of a murder/suicide committed by the resident
  • whatever preliminary controls were used were ineffectual…either
    • no relevant information was discovered, or
    • the information discovered was not understood to be relevant, or
    • the information discovered was ignored or not used

What must be remembered:

  • proper identification and screening of potential residents, including the use of positive picture identification, references, and criminal background checks, are important for the safety of staff, other residents, and any who use or are near the YMCA
  • house rules must be specifically delineated, clearly communicated, regularly monitored, and consistently enforced…progressive discipline may be appropriate for minor infractions, but immediate eviction and/or police intervention should be clearly established for serious violations
  • eviction protocol and practice must protect all parties…staff, other residents, and the evictee; if deemed appropriate, the use of police officers during the actual eviction procedure can not only provide some barrier against physical violence, but can also provide witnesses in case of civil suit

Please call us at 800-463-8546 to discuss this or any other risk management safety tip, or visit our web site at www.redwoodsgroup.com to learn more about YMCA risk management issues.

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