Flashrobbing and Mob Violence
We have written previously on the subject of “flashrobbing” – A flash rob (or flash robbery) is a crime in which a large group of people – usually teenagers – converges to steal items from a store and then disperses as suddenly as they gathered.
Recently in Louisville, KY, police pieced together a rampage by a group of around 200 teens that had gathered at Waterfront Park for a memorial service for Ma’Quale Offutt. Offutt was stabbed in an altercation on a public TARC bus. The man accused of stabbing the teen, Anthony Rene Allen, is now charged with murder. Police say he stabbed fellow bus passengers after getting into an altercation with the teenagers.
But at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 12 gathered groups attacked.
According to the Louisville Courier Journal, the violence quickly spiraled after two attacks on passersby.
A swarm of two dozen teenagers walked up to a man on the Big Four Bridge around 7 p.m. that evening and asked him for a cigarette. Then, without provocation, they pummeled him.
Within minutes, 10 teenagers on the bridge shoved another man to the ground, beat and kicked him, as his wife and granddaughters watched and wept.
The simultaneous attacks in broad daylight early Saturday evening were the opening salvo in a rampage that spanned at least three hours and two dozen blocks, and has, in the days since, sent city officials scrambling to reassure the public that downtown Louisville has not devolved into a lawless battlefield.
A Courier-Journal review of dozens of incident reports obtained from Louisville Metro Police chronicle the teens’ movements. Mobs of teenagers roved the streets, several dozen people deep. They beat a man unconscious, broke windows, threw rocks at moving cars, looted a store, threatened a police officer and mugged anyone who dared get in their way. More than 30 people called to report trouble. Police have counted at least 20 crimes, and suspect there are more that have yet to be reported.
“They were organized and nobody else was,” Jean Henry said of the mob that knocked her 61-year-old husband to the ground on the Big Four Bridge, then beat and kicked him. “When I was running to my husband, I looked around. I couldn’t tell who was in the group and who just happened to be up there. People were in shock, I think that’s why nobody helped us.”
Police Chief Steve Conrad has spent the days since defending his department’s response to the outbreak of violence, and explaining how a mass of kids managed to elude police for hours and continue robbing, beating and vandalizing.
For any business, the anticipation of violent incidents must be taken into consideration and included in a sound workplace violence program. For many smaller, independently-owned businesses however, employees are provided little training, and may be the owners themselves.
One employee of Bader’s, and a victim of the attack, can be seen trying to block the door in the below video. His wife was working the cash register at the time.
Much like active-shooter events, these types of incidents are unexpected, may be life-threatening, and are time-limited events that can inhibit an individual’s capacity to respond adaptively.
The psychological impact of an event may be debilitating and causing recurrent intrusive images, persistent fear, displaced anger, guilt, and isolation.
Violence in the workplace is disruptive to corporate business, and workplace. Productivity, quality, profitability, and other key performance measures are adversely affected by such events.
The cost of reacting after a serious incident has occurred is 100 times more costly than taking preventative actions.
“All organizations ultimately carry a responsibility, both for humanitarian and legal reasons, to protect employees and others who interact with the workplace to the fullest practical extent by taking measures to detect threats at the earliest possible moment, engage in effective intervention through careful Incident management, and mitigate consequences should violence erupt.”
-from the “American National Standard in Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention (ASIS/SHRM WPVI.1-2011)
Learn more about workplace violence and what your company – no mater the size – can do to prevent it. Download Understanding Workplace Violence