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Wednesday, November 1, 2000



In our hearts forever

One year later, families, friends
and co-workers of seven murdered
men are still struggling
toward healing

Bullet Employers told to heed warnings
Bullet Aloha comforted survivors
Bullet Victims to file lawsuit

By Rod Ohira

TOMORROW marks the first anniversary of the Xerox shooting, a savage explosion of workplace violence that left seven men dead, a trail of broken families, and an unforgiving snapshot of horror in the minds of many.

The murder conviction of Byran Uyesugi in June provided some closure for victims' families, who have been invited to attend a private Xerox Hawaii memorial service at 8 a.m. tomorrow at First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu in Makiki.

"We hope to have a beautiful ceremony that's really focused on remembering, but also healing," said Glenn Sexton, Xerox Hawaii vice president and general manager.

"It'll be a very difficult time for all of us. We hope that it has a positive outcome. We see this as another step in a lengthy healing process."

Xerox Corp. employees across the nation will observe a moment of silence at 8 a.m. (HST) in memory of Melvin Lee, 58; Ronald Kawamae, 54; Ronald Kataoka, 50; Peter Mark, 46; Ford Kanehira, 41; John Sakamoto, 36, and Jason Balatico, 33.

"The seven men who died will remain in our hearts forever," said Rev. Dan Chun of First Presbyterian Church of Honolulu, who will preside over the memorial service.

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Jason Christopher Balatico's gravesite at Valley of the Temples.
He was one of the seven men killed last year.

"Love will sustain us, strengthen us, encourage us to get through the dark valleys of life."

Roslyn Catracchia has composed a song especially for the service titled, "Here in Our Hearts."

"I think what we've learned is it can happen and that we're not immune to this kind of incident," Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle said. "It's taken a great amount of courage for the survivors to go on."

Re-registration of all firearms in Hawaii could help to prevent another Xerox tragedy by keeping guns away from people who have exhibited violent behavior, said Carlisle.

"I think it's reasonable to renew firearm registrations regularly like we do with driver's licenses."

The tragedy has also focused attention on issues of violent behavior at work and how to deal with it.

A soon-to-be-released Hawaii Occupational Safety & Health investigation into the root cause of the Xerox incident will give an indication of what is expected of management safety plans for the workplace.

It also will have an impact on potential civil lawsuits stemming from the Xerox tragedy.

"It's at multiple stages of review and we should come out with something shortly, in a week or two," OHSA administrator Jennifer Shishido said.

To avoid confusing witnesses for Uyesugi's trial, OHSA delayed its investigation until August, but worked with prosecutors to obtain transcripts and answers from Xerox employees, Shishido noted.

"We asked them to ask certain questions we thought were relevant," Shishido said.

"Those questions were: has any employee brought out to management's attention what they perceive to be any threats of violent action against a co-worker? And if there were, what did management do about it?"

The seven victims

Attorney Michael Green, who represents Randal Shim and one other unnamed Xerox employee, believes Xerox Hawaii did not follow up on action it took earlier concerning Uyesugi's conduct.

"Once we file suit, my guess is other people who worked at Xerox that were affected by what happened that day, may seek other lawyers," said Green, who has not yet filed suit.

The man who'll spend the rest of his life in prison for slaying the seven men showed little emotion during his three-week trial and has made no statements of remorse.

Uyesugi is housed in the protective custody unit at the Halawa High Security Facility with about a dozen other inmates. His 41st birthday passed quietly on Oct. 11 without cake or visitors.

"He doesn't talk much and hasn't been a problem for us," said Cinda Sandin, the high security residency supervisor. "He's allowed to mix with inmates in his unit but there hasn't been much interaction."

A jury deliberated for 80 minutes and returned a guilty verdict on June 13 against Uyesugi for murdering co-workers.

Carlisle described Uyesugi as an angry, disgruntled Xerox employee who believed the victims were trying to get rid of him by trying to make him look bad.

Attorneys Jerel Fonseca and Rodney Ching, who presented an insanity defense, are no longer representing Uyesugi. The state public defender's office filed Uyesugi's notice of appeal.

Xerox Hawaii has finalized plans to move its parts warehouse from 1200 N. Nimitz Highway, where the shooting occurred, to a Kakaako location on Auahi Street previously occupied by Office Depot Inc.

It took Xerox a year to find a suitable location and negotiate lease agreements affecting the old and new sites, Sexton said.

Experts call on employers
to pay heed to warning
signs of workplace

By Rod Ohira

Jeffrey Owens, a Honolulu police major and consultant on workplace violence, watched Byran Uyesugi being brought into the main station's cellblock for booking last Nov. 2.

"He didn't appear to be any different than any other person," Owens said. "It shows anyone can commit an act of violence."

Citing U.S. Department of Justice statistics, Owens noted that 2 million people a year are victims of violent crime at work.

On the average, 1,000 people are murdered, 1.5 million are physically assaulted and 51,000 are sexually assaulted at work, he said.

"But there are over 120 million people in the American workplace," Owens added. "If we take the high side of a thousand people, the reality is a very small fraction of the work force is ever at risk of being killed.


Workplace violence issues will be discussed at:


The conference, to be held tomorrow and Friday at the Hawaii Convention Center, features 42 workshops. Notable presenters include Christina Sickles Merchant, a workplace conflict management consultant from Virginia; John A. Calhoun, executive director of the National Crime Prevention Council; James E. Copple of the Crime Prevention Coalition of America; and Charles Alphin, an expert on nonviolent means of resolving conflict.

Bullet Call 956-3364 for information.


To be held Nov. 14, at the Hawaii Prince Hotel's Mauna Kea Ballroom. Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle will be the main speaker. Carlisle, who prosecuted Byran Uyesugi, lectured at the National Institute of Trial Advocacy in San Diego last week.

Bullet Call 832-0143 for reservations.

"Most of the violence is going to be intimidation, fear, physical fights, slaps and punches. But signs of aggressive, dysfunctional and violent behavior should never be ignored. It needs to be addressed."

Other experts agreed the Xerox shooting is not a typical example of violence at work.

"Incidents where the employee turns to violent behavior are extremely rare," said Jennifer Shishido, administrator of the Hawaii Occupational Safety & Health Division.

"Overwhelmingly, the majority of fatalities or homicides at work are the result of crime, usually robberies."

Because of the Xerox shooting, there has been a heightened awareness about how to prevent violence in the workplace, Shishido said.

"Most of that is handled through good human resource practices -- knowing who your employees are, providing employees assistance or counseling, nipping in the bud behavior that is inappropriate, having policies in place for employees to report incidences of violence so management can take care of it appropriately," Shishido said.

But there are no guarantees.

"What we have experienced goes beyond what is imaginable and certainly is not typical," said Glenn Sexton, Xerox Hawaii vice president and general manager.

"I think what this has demonstrated, and what we have all learned," Sexton added, "is that a company can have very strict procedures as related to workplace violence or threats, and have policies in place and follow those policies, and something like this can still happen."

Employers are required to have accident prevention plans, said Shishido. "We have a rule that basically says if something happens that causes injury to an employee, you take a look at it, analyze it, and take action to prevent it from happening again," she said.

For example, if there's a pattern of convenience store clerks being assaulted and robbed, the employer has a duty to develop "means and methods" to prevent it from happening again, said Shishido.

It may involve keeping less cash on hand or removing posters, signs, ads from window to create a clear view from the outside, she added.

Company policies also should not discourage police intervention, said Owens.

"Any time people feel they are at risk of harm, they should feel it's OK to call the police," Owens said.

"Police being called sends a message to a person at risk of acting out that these kinds of actions will not be tolerated. It also provides a paper trail -- documentation of appropriate action."

Ignoring warning signs of violent behavior could affect the bottom line of businesses, Shishido said.

"It may not manifest itself in violence against a co-worker, but somehow it's going to affect their bottom line," she said. "It may come in subtle ways like being rude to a customer, not working as fast, misusing and losing equipment, or setting fires."

There's no way to predict when violence will be acted out, Owens said. "How does anyone know when a person is going to jump from being just an unhappy or disgruntled person at work to a person who is going to become homicidal?" said Owens, who has a business that helps organizations deal with workplace violence issues.

"But we can do a lot to reduce the risk. That's why it's critically important to try to intervene and address issues as early on as possible. If we address the small issues maybe the big ones won't occur."

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