19/03/2010

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Workplace clash led to rampage: witnes…
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Workplace clash led to rampage: witness
Last Updated: March 12, 2010 9:32pm

An eyewitness to Friday’s horrifying shooting at a local car dealership says the rampage was sparked by a human rights complaint filed against the killer by a nonwhite co-worker. An employee at Great West Chrysler Jeep, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says Dave Burns was due to return to work the morning of the killing, after serving a two-week suspension.
Police investigate Friday’s fatal at Great West Chrysler Jeep, 17817 Stony Plain Rd. An em ployee at the dealership said the gunm an frequently clashed w ith the tw o m en he shot. (PERRY MAH/EDMONTON SUN)

Burns was sent home for posting a sexually explicit picture on a staff bulletin board in the service centre. It depicted two South Asian men, the witness said, and was meant to be a jab at the shop’s only South Asian technician.

“There’ve been lots of things like that,” he said. “They’ve been directed at all of us.” But the technician was so outraged over this picture, the witness said, that he complained to senior management and filed a human rights complaint. “Two people are dead and another’s in hospital,” he said Friday, “all because someone put a joke photo on the wall.” At around 8 a.m. on Friday, Burns walked into the dealership and without a word, shot two coworkers with a sawed-off shotgun, killing one and critically wounding the other. Burns then put the gun in his own mouth and pulled the trigger. The witness said Burns frequently clashed with the two people he shot. “This was planned, it was organized,” the witness said. “He had a list and he came to kill.” He said that the South Asian employee was not at work on Friday. “I’m sure Dave was looking for him, too.” Burns, who’d been with Great West for more than 15 years, was the service department’s “tower operator.” He was the department’s hub, ensuring a smooth flow of paperwork, supplies, etc. It’s a high-pressure job, and the witness said Burns often clashed with co-workers. “It happens in every shop,” he said. “It’s a tough position.” Burns, he said, “kept the mechanics busy.” He was known around the shop as “the Nazi,” but the witness didn’t know how he earned the moniker. “I never saw him do anything overtly racist,” he said. He noted that Burns had an unusual tattoo on his left earlobe: a winged skull just like the Hells Angels biker gang’s symbol. “I never would have expected anything like this from him,” he said, eyes welling with tears.
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19/03/2010

Workplace clash led to rampage: witnes…

However, he added, after the massacre he saw a 15-year-old video of Burns on the Internet and was shocked by what he saw. “He seemed like a different guy back then,” he said. “I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was, but he was very different.” MacEwan University criminologist Bill Pitt said that based on the preliminary information surfacing about Burns on Friday afternoon, he was “a textbook case” of the workplace shooter. Pitt said there are three primary types: the conflict killer, who has personal grudges against co-workers; the authority killer, who harbours deep resentment toward his bosses; and the revenge killer, usually someone who’s lost their job. “He certainly seems to fit into any one of those categories,” Pitt said. Usually, they feel utterly isolated, disenfranchised and marginalized. They spend a lot of time brooding, wallowing in their self pity. Often, Pitt said, they will talk about taking a gun to work ahead of time to family and friends, but it’s often dismissed by them as harmless ranting. “Often there’s a week or two of heavy alcohol abuse,” he said. Pitt said workplace shootings often happen in waves because the first case prompts others to follow suit. “Just watch,” he said. “There’ll be another one somewhere in Canada within 72 hours.” andrew.hanon@sunmedia

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