GRAND JUNCTION, CO—Last Tuesday started as any other morning for employees of Redundancy Corporation. At home in front of computer screens, many with morning coffee in hand, they were a mere 8 minutes into their weekly company-wide Zoom meeting, when things took a turn.
It was at that time that 32-year-old accounting employee Larry Elder began shouting vulgarities, abruptly stood up, and disappeared from the screen for a few moments. Meeting participants were shocked when Elder, still filling attendees’ speakers with profanities, reappeared on screen with what one witness identified as an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. toy pistol.
Elder proceeded to raise his plastic weapon and began verbally delivering his manifesto. “Before we knew what was going on, Larry starts calling out people’s names, pointing his pistol at his screen, and shouting ‘you’re dead,’ one by one. It was just awful,” Rhonda Dalhaler, an administrative assistant for the company, tearfully recounts. “It took me a second to realize people were being virtually shot.”
Prasad Kaur, Redundancy’s CFO, was also on the Zoom call at the time. “Larry has always been very friendly around the office, but you could tell he was having difficulty with the transition to remote working. He called me several times to complain that he couldn’t figure out his webcam.”
It is unknown how many rounds of virtual ammunition Elder had on him when he began his rampage, but several participants on the call reported hearing at least 12 to 15 “pew pews” shouted by Elder, before the firing subsided and his screen went black.
State Representative Jeanette Kelsey immediately put out a press release calling for bipartisan support of a bill to stop virtual workplace violence. If passed, the bill would provide funding for companies to purchase virtual bulletproof shields for employees to place in front of their screens while attending virtual meetings. “People virtually have no protection from this kind of violence. We have a long road ahead of us getting this legislation through committee, but my bill will virtually solve this problem.”
The exact number of “virtual” casualties is unknown. Many, like Rhonda Dalhaler, are feeling fortunate. “Lucky for me, my internet connection is spotty. That’s probably why I got away unharmed.” Redundancy is providing employees with post-trauma counseling services for all impacted employees.