Diary of a Plot

Written by Robert D. Sollars

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This chapter of my book, written & published in 2020, and is re-published here for Workplace Violence Awareness Month, Murder at Work: A Practical Guide for Prevention, is designed to alert everyone to the dangers of workplace violence and how to potentially prevent a fatal incident in, around, or because of the business the organization conducts.

This is a fictionalized account of one possible workplace violence incident. The incidents and people have been taken from the thousands of reports that I’ve read and heard. None of the individuals or places in this account actually exist.

From the work diary of Angela Paulsen, 3rd shift supervisor at Paulsen Plastics – west St. Joseph, Ks.

March 20 – Tonight is my first night as a supervisor. Wow, finally moving up the ladder. The third shift won’t be easy here, but it’ll work for now. I’ve been told that I have a shift of squirrely workers so I best get out there and start meeting them.

March 23 – Mom wasn’t kidding, these are a bunch of squirrely workers. It is definitely a bit eclectic. It’ll take some getting used to these personalities, business school definitely didn’t tell me about this.

March 30 – Getting used to the crew finally, after a week. Most of them are just a little bit squirrely, others well…. There are only one or two people that really kind of bother me. Richard Reilly and Sandra Boil; they’re both a bit close to the edge if you ask me, but I’m not a psychologist. Got to get the bottles moving sooner rather than later.

April 10 – It’s sure been hectic the past week or so. Machines breaking down and putting us so far behind that dad had to call the customer and tell them we’d be about a week behind in delivery. Boy were they mad, they almost canceled the entire order. It didn’t help that Reilly has really started acting weird lately. Don Jackson told me he muttered a threat to him under his breath. I’ll have to keep an eye on him.

April 16 – We are finally back up to full production. As long as the machines hold out, we should be able to make the shipment on time — I hope. Reilly is keeping to himself a lot now. His head is always down and he’s constantly acting like he’s going to fall asleep. I think I’ll have a talk with him after the shift is over.

April 30 – Things are really going well. I’ve learned a lot about almost everyone here except Boil and Reilly. Boil still sits alone most of the time and Reilly is starting to get on my nerves about stuff. Also, his production is becoming increasingly erratic.

May 10 – Well I just had a long talk with Boil. I didn’t realize that things were so bad with her and her husband. It took a bit of coaxing and candid talk about her work performance but I got it out of her. Her husband abuses the shit out of her every night. It’s sad, but he literally beats on her and trashes her and everything about her. She was crying when she left here. He’s accusing her of having an affair with someone here at the plant. I saw the bruises on her arm and the blood blister on her back. I referred her to HR and hopefully, they can help. As it is, until it gets resolved I’ll give her a break — as long as I can.

May 13 – Riley is putting things in bad shape for us. He’s constantly making stupid little mistakes on the line. This morning he pushed the wrong computation into the computer and we lost more than an hour’s worth of quart bottles. They are now 32.3 ounces, and the lids are too big for the necks. That’s going to cost us big.

May 15 – I sat Riley down and tried to talk to him about his work issues. His concentration is off and he is constantly walking into and tripping over things like he’s drunk! I checked him and he’s not. Sent him for a drug test yesterday and it came back negative for anything but caffeine and nicotine. Coffee and cigs. I told him if he didn’t straighten up quick — really quick — I’d have to suspend or terminate him. All he did was shrug and mumble something. I’ll talk to HR in the morning about it and ask them what the hell to do.

May 26 – Riley is back to work after the suspension. 10 days didn’t seem to help much. He’s back to his old tricks again. And it looks like he hasn’t slept in days. His eyes are red, he slurs when he talks and doesn’t speak very coherently anyway! I think I’ll have to drug test him again.

May 29 – I had to fire Riley this morning. He came in so drunk that you could smell him from a mile away. There was no way I was going to let him anywhere near that machine. We are already behind on our current order due to his past mistakes. We argued and he literally stomped off and out in a huff. I couldn’t hear everything but I thought I heard him mumbling something about everyone was out to get him and he’d take care of that problem.

June 3 – When I came in tonight, there were security guards everywhere! Dad said that Riley had called and said that he was going to shoot up the place. Scary stuff to be sure. I’m glad that mom has ordered a lock-down of the factory, but man it’s going to get hot in here without the doors open!

Oh my God, I hear gunshots. There he is and he’s got a gun! He’s shooting everyone in sight. He just walked by Boyle and Hoolihan. He’s coming this way! Oh M…


Gunman kills 3 wounds 2 at a plastics plant

Compiled by: Trent Margolies

Today’s News On-line

Monday 8:54 a.m.


West St. Joseph, KS. – A gunman walked into the Paulsen Modern Plastics manufacturing plant this morning and shot 5 people. Initial reports are that 3 are dead, including the daughter of the plant owner and the gunman.


The alleged shooter has been tentatively identified as Richard Riley, 43, a former employee of the plant. He was allegedly fired a week ago.


“‘This is all so sudden and we never expected it! “said one worker who didn’t want to be identified. Another employee, Garret Preston, stated that ”There were security guards everywhere for the past couple of days, but no one expected Riley to do this.”


Gunman kills 3 wounds 2 at the plastics plant

Compiled by: Tanner Gers

Today’s News On-line

Monday 8:54 a.m.

West St. Joseph, KS. – A gunman walked into the Paulsen Modern Plastics manufacturing plant this morning and shot 5 people. Initial reports are that 3 are dead, including the daughter of the plant owner and the gunman.


The alleged shooter has been tentatively identified as Richard Riley, 43, a former employee of the plant. He was allegedly fired one week ago for unknown reasons at this time.


“‘This is all so sudden and we never expected it!  It’s like someone flipped a switch on him “Said Danielle Jones a plant employee who worked with Riley for three years.


Another employee, Judy Hartmann, stated that” There were security guards everywhere for the past couple of days, but no one expected Riley to do this.”


The plant manager and owner, Rachel Paulsen, stated that she was heartbroken by the death of her employees and her daughter. “I never expected anyone who worked here to act like this. I try to treat them all like family. But I guess even in the best of family’s things go awry.”


Rosa, a support staff employee who didn’t wish to have her last name used, stated that Ms. Paulsen “treats us like family and is constantly there any time one of us needs help in any form”.


Updated: Monday 11:45 AM

Richard Riley, the suspected gunman in this morning’s rampage has been officially identified by police as the shooter at Paulsen Modern Plastics manufacturing plant. The shooting occurred at 3:16 AM this morning according to initial reports.


Riley had been terminated from his job as a machine operator earlier this week by the plant owner’s daughter, who was a floor supervisor at the plant, for several issues according to human resources director Kevin Ford.


Ford would not comment as to the exact issues that caused Riley’s termination. Unconfirmed sources inside the plant, however, stated that the issues included carelessness, intoxication on the job, insubordination by swearing at co-workers and his supervisor, and threats made against the facility and employees.



Updated: Monday 12:36 PM

The death toll in the Paulsen Modern Plastics Manufacturing plant shooting has risen from three to four as an additional victim died at the hospital earlier.


Traci Carr, an Irish immigrant died from her injuries at noon today according to a hospital spokesman.


The other victims were the plant owner’s daughter and Eric Schuetz in addition to the gunman Richard Riley.


According to Rachel Paulsen, plant manager, and owner, grief counselors have been called in and the plant will be closed for an extended period, at least a week to allow the employees to grieve and mourn their co-workers.


“It will cost us some money but people are more important than money to us at Paulsen. We strive to treat all employees as family, that’s why we’re doing this in addition to paying them while the plant is closed.”


Business Journal


By: Eileen Nelson

Paulsen Plastics expected to lose numerous contracts over shooting earlier this week due to delay in resuming production


Because of delaying resuming their manufacturing of plastic bottles and jars for the food industry Paulsen Plastics is expected to lose at least seven contracts totaling more than $30 million according to business and industry analysts.


This total could rise depending on how long before the plant can resume normal operations which according to some consultants could take as long as six to eight weeks.


“It takes that long, generally, for a company to recover from such an incident such as this kind of violence and begin to work as normal can be.” According to Toni Young an independent business consultant.


Plastics manufacturing analyst Anna Sweeney stated that it could be sooner if the family-oriented atmosphere that Paulsen likes to tout actually does work as it should. Mainly because family tries to take care of and lean on each other”.


Robert D. Sollars a security expert that works with manufacturing plants stated that the company did several things wrong in their approach to the shooter.


“#1 it appears that they gave the shooter far too many chances and tried to help too much. An analogy would be that they treated him like a guilty father and a son who went awry. That could have given Riley the incentive to gain the revenge he wanted and the plant was the easiest target.”


He went on to say that it appears that Riley was given at least 3 or 4 chances on every instance over a period of several months. “Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and terminate them”


Rachel Paulsen, the plant owner, stated that “I don’t feel that we didn’t give anyone too many chances to come along or help too much. We followed our policies and procedures and the law when it came to handling Riley before the incident. As a family, it’s our duty to try and care for our employees.


And while some say we could be down for two months or more I think we should be back to full production and at full capacity, with overtime, within a week or so after we re-open.


We will keep counselors on site for a few weeks, just in case someone would need them and our Employee Assistance Program will be accorded to anyone who needs to take advantage of its assistance … at no cost to them”


Sollars gave the Business Journal a list of 24 warning signs for an employee who may be ready to ‘Go Postal’ on co-workers. He also stated that people have a tendency to ignore those signs as just personality traits and not problematic issues.

It happens to Anyone…Any Time… Anywhere… For any Reason

I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear

Permission to share? Of course, with full attribution.

Copyright 2020 Robert D. Sollars

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