A horrible, senseless act of workplace violence

On the afternoon of December 27, a 39-year-old convenience store clerk named Surendra Dangol was killed after handing over the cash from his till to the gunman who decided to shoot him despite his apparent cooperation.  The murder occurred in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, where I happen to live.

District Attorney Dan Conley described the killing this way:

At about 3:00, the gunman entered the store, produced a firearm, and robbed Surendra. Contrary to some reports, there is no evidence to suggest that Surendra resisted or fought back. It’s clear that Surendra cooperated with his assailant. He didn’t act rashly or try to be a hero, and for that good judgment he was shot to death in cold blood.

The gunman then left the store and fled as a passenger in a four-door white sedan headed toward the Jamaicaway.

This was a shocking crime – not just because a man was killed but because he was gunned down for a small stack of bills that he gave up willingly. Surendra’s death should outrage every person of faith and conscience in our community.

Dangol was a native of Nepal, and he was saving up money to bring his wife and daughter to the United States.  Although he had just started to work at the store, customers who frequented it remarked that he was a friendly employee.  In other words, he was a decent man who was trying to make a better life for his family.

Universal Hub (a popular blog about Boston life that I contribute to on occasion) has the District Attorney’s full statement and a link to the store video released by the DA’s office of what happened that afternoon, without the actual shooting.  If you watch the video, you’ll see that Dangol was cooperating fully and did not appear to show any resistance or attitude.  For that he was shot. 

Workplace violence occurs in many ways, but this story brings it home.  Unfortunately, homicide is one of the leading causes of workplace fatalities, and workers in the retail service sector such as Dangol are among those at risk.  As a fact sheet from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration observes:

Workplace violence is violence or the threat of violence against workers. It can occur at or outside the workplace and can range from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and homicide, one of the leading causes of job-related deaths. However it manifests itself, workplace violence is a growing concern for employers and employees nationwide.

Link to the Universal Hub post and the store video: http://www.universalhub.com/2009/last_moments_surendra_dangols_life

Link to OSHA Fact Sheet (pdf): http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/factsheet-workplace-violence.pdf

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