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Police officers block the road outside a shipping company south of Athens on 12 February 2024. Three people were killed, and the assailant barricaded himself in the premises of a shipping company in the seaside suburb of Athens before killing himself. (Photo by ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Former Employee Opens Fire on Staff and Executives of Greek Shipping Company

A man who had recently been terminated from his position at a shipping company walked into an office building outside of Athens, Greece, and shot and killed three people before taking his own life.

Press reports identify the company as European Navigation and describe the gunman as a 76-year-old Egyptian national. The CEO of the company and two others died of gunshot wounds. The assailant then created a standoff situation by barricading himself in an office as people fled from the scene. After several hours during which authorities were in contact with the man encouraging him to surrender, police say he shot and killed himself. They found him alone with what the BBC described as a hunting rifle next to him.

According to the United Press International, the assailant still had employee access to the building. He entered through the building’s garage, killing two people on a mezzanine level before moving to the second floor and killing one more.

While Greece has a relatively high gun-related homicide rate compared to other Western European nations, incidents with firearms account for a tiny fraction of violence compared to the United States, similar to the rest of Europe. Events such as this one are a rarity in Greece, which has strict gun possession laws and experiences only limited gun violence outside of organized crime-related incidents.

No details about the nature of the employment separation or the state of mind of the assailant have been released publicly. Security Management addressed the topic of safer terminations with a package of content in October 2023, including an article on steps that can lead to a mutually beneficial separation. An earlier article also describes the best approach to try to mitigate adverse consequences during an employee separation:

“Having a holistic approach with many stakeholders around the table helps the organization anticipate issues it needs to have protocols around. ‘One thing we know about human behavior is: we don’t know about human behaviors,’ Randolph says. ‘Why did somebody suddenly decide to take a very tragic ending to an event? We can make guesses, we can forensically and psychologically examine it, but at the end of the day, we don’t know in that moment why somebody decided to do what they were going to do. The only way to anticipate that is to bring everybody to the table, have those odd conversations, and get the protocols out so we can talk them through.’”