I rarely forward articles, however this one on Termination Procedures is a MUST READ.

The Author is Ron Williams, my close personal friend for the last 20 years. He was career Secret Service (protected 5 Presidents) and owns Talon, a security and risk management firm. As you may know, I spent three years in counter-terrorism working with the CIA/FBI after 9/11, which is how Ron and I met. This article on the right way to handle terminations really hit a nerve.

The article discusses the right protocol for terminating employees, especially those with a violent temper or a propensity for violence. Highly relevant given the current industry consolidation and layoffs. We hear about workplace violence on a daily basis these days. There have been several “incidents” in the casino industry, so don’t take this subject lightly.

And THIS is why I don’t believe in online job postings or cold calling candidates on LinkedIn. No matter how good the resume looks, it’s critical that you understand their background and why they were terminated over the past few years. Alcohol and/or drug abuse? Sexual harassment? Embezzlement? Workplace violence? That won’t be listed on the CV. With further ado, with full credit to Talon CEO Ron Williams (www.taloncompanies.com):

Terminations: How They Should Be Conducted

A day after Illinois State Police inquired about Gary Martin’s criminal history in 2014, two court clerks in Mississippi discussed whether to send authorities a chilling psychiatric evaluation in which the future mass killer described himself as “an abuser” and admitted to anger issues. “I have a problem controlling my temper … when I get real upset,” Martin told a psychiatrist in 1995, according to court records.

Martin, then 22, underwent the court-ordered psychiatric examination after he was sentenced to five years in prison for beating his then-girlfriend with an aluminum baseball bat and then stabbing her. He was released after serving less than three years, despite his former girlfriend having objected to his release.

The evaluating psychiatrist detailed Martin’s violent nature, especially when he felt sad or abandoned. The psychiatrist also raised concerns that Martin could harm his ex-girlfriend again, but he wrote that Martin did not pose a threat to the general public at that time. The report ends with an unsettling passage, as the doctor refused to rule out future violence and eerily foreshadowed last week’s deadly shooting in Aurora, Illinois.

On February 20, 2019, Gary Martin reported to the Director of Human Resources at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois. Upon learning that he was being terminated, Gary Martin pulled out a handgun that was registered to him, and shot and killed the Director of Human Resources, the plant manager, and an intern from Northern Illinois University in the HR office. Martin then killed two more employees outside the office in the warehouse and wounded a sixth person. Martin then proceeded to wound five police officers arriving on the scene before being shot and killed by police officers.

Based on Martin’s previous conviction in Mississippi, he was not authorized to own a gun. In fact, he had been instructed to turn the weapon into the police, but no follow up was conducted to ascertain if the weapon was ever relinquished. A review of this chilling case reveals protocols and procedures that should have been in place before the termination process.

First, based on Martin’s past behaviors, it can be assumed that he was being terminated for displaying aberrant and dysfunctional behaviors that gave an indication of a propensity for violence. The company should have consulted with a threat assessment professional or forensic psychologist to determine Martin’s threat level.

Second, a thorough background check should have been conducted before the termination process to determine if Martin had any issues since he was hired 15 years prior to his termination. A background check should have alerted HR that Martin had a criminal record for beating his girlfriend and had been incarcerated in prison. The initial background check when Martin was hired failed to disclose his conviction, but a second more thorough check probably would have disclosed this valuable information.

Third, HR should have hired two armed security officers, with police experience, to be present and alert in the room or immediate vicinity, knowing he had a violent temper.

Fourth, the room should have been set up to have an escape route for the victims in the event Martin became violent.

The personal property of the terminated employee should be given to him/her after termination, and he/she should be escorted off the property by security personnel. A termination is a stressful event, and based on Martin’s past behavior, it should have been anticipated he would react. This is not a newsletter to criticize the folks who lost their lives, but rather a critique for future terminations. When people who have anger management issues and a history of violent behavior are put into stressful situations, they will react to the event in a violent manner.

This sad incident should teach us to be prepared.

Ron Williams

United States Secret Service-Retired


Talon Companies