Another DSV Related “School Shooting”; Another Man Hunt

Wesleyan Shooting(AP Photo/Middletown Police)

When UGA Professor George Zinkhan shot his wife and several others in a theater just outside of campus, I was still in a state of denial about how the increase in DSV incidents in our nation was headed to campus. Now, a man named Stephen Morgan (pictured above) has shot and killed Wesleyan student Johanna Justin-Jinich @ Broadstreet Books. According to mapquest, the bookstore is on the edge of Wesleyan University campus and is the campus bookstore.  Justin-Jinich was working there at the time of her shooting. Currently, she is the only victim.

According to AP News, Justin-Jinich had filed harassment charges against Morgan in 2007. She said that he had been harassing her since they met at NYU several years prior to the shooting. She also produced emails that clearly threatened ongoing harassment and warned “you are going to have a lot more problems down the road.” (yahoo news wire) In what has become all too typical in the policing of violence against women, the police did not follow through on Justin-Jinich’s complaint becase Morgan was believed to have already left CT at the time . . .

Wesleyan’s campus has been voluntarily evacuated (meaning students are inside their dorms and faculty and staff were asked to stay home and/or be extra careful) and both they and local Jewish community centers have been put on high alert. Morgan is not only suspected of harassment but also holding resentment against Wesleyan, his victim’s employer, and being anti-semitic. Since he is already wanted for murder, some police believe he may also try to strike out at these two communities before he is caught. According to the news, there is “evidence” that he has a plan of attack.

In talking about both of these shootings, I think we need to look at the existing models of policing violence against women, particularly since they so often fail to protect the targets of domestic and sexual violence (which includes stalking). More than that, for at least 15 years, state level statistics have been kept around this nation about how DSV cases impact the workplace. These statistics prove that DSV spills out into the workplace in terms of productivity, health insurance costs, and milieu (team & office dynamics). More importantly, for this case, these stats also show an alarming rate of violence in the workplace from stalkers/abusers, including the potential for a mass shooting.  One such study that I worked on 10 years ago argued that we need to develop safety protocols for the workplace before DSV incidents occur. These protocols include: training on DSV for all employees, safety plans for recognizing and mediating violence as well as evacuation of buildings when necessary. Often, women do not disclose what is going on in their lives out of fear of shaming and blaming and the potential loss of their jobs, so it is important to recognize the signs that someone is being menaced (regardless of whether that is verbal, emotional, or physical).  Many women who do disclose, do so to immediate friends in the workplace and often have an informal safety plan that involves workers “in the know” watching out for abusers and putting themselves between them and the women they target.  When an abuser has access to weapons, this can be a very bad idea both in terms of personal safety but also in terms of a workplace in which not everyone knows to be vigilant.

The unofficial divestment of interest in supporting policies, research, shelters, and other DSV services of the Bush Administration, led to the scale back of such services around the country. Many of those services cut included awareness campaigns in the schools and with law enforcement and judges. The innovative school based programs I worked with for instance, are all gone due to lack of funding. A critical paradigm shift also occured on some college campuses as a result, including campaigns against Take Back the Night (I am not including race-class critiques of this event but rather questions about its purpose) and the t-shirt projects. The result is that while we still talk about DSV in Women’s Studies classrooms or in Women’s Centers, there is less awareness in the general population than there should be about stalking and abuse.  Like other important women’s issues that fell under the Bush-Cheney bus, the result for women’s rights has been devastating.

The good news is that VP Biden was one of the authors of the Violence Against Women Act and during the campaign he also promised to continue efforts to extend it to cover war crimes and assylum considerations in the form of an International VAWA.  This means that even in these hard economic times, times that tend to exacerbate violence against women, we can still put pressure on the government to fund needed educational programs and awareness campaigns.  More than that, we can demand that our local communities, county, state, and national leaders take violence against women seriously. Instead of talking about it in issolation as “domestic disputes” or “localized issues,” we can need to make connections between the DSV, militirization, and the current economic crisis, connections that have already been outlined for us during the 1970s. Unfortunately, we also need to connect these issues to what we know about school shootings. In my mind, the time for shock has long since past and we cannot afford to spend anymore time failing to be proactive.

At its simplest level, the Wesleyan shooting occurred because nobody took what we know about stalking and threats seriously enough to track down Stephen Morgan and asses his level of threat. At it is most complex, the failure to take women’s safety seriously may eventually lead to hate crime or school based shooting.

(And as I wrote that last sentence, I was reminded of the severely abused wife in MA, who complained repeatedly about her husband’s abuse and fascination with Hitler. Local authorities did very little to protect her or investigate. When she finally killed him last year, supposedly in self-defense, authorities found the making of several dirty bombs in the home, maps, and journals and notes filled with hate speech targeting liberals and the new government.  Her safety should have been enough to make authorities investigate thoroughly; b/c women’s lives do not matter, and abused women even less, a potential domestic terrorist – the first one known to have the materials needed within US borders – went unchecked. No one knows who he planned to target. And the story got very little coverage.)

Police are currently searching for Stephen Morgan. He is 29 years old, dark hair, a beard and mustache. He was last seen wearing a dark sweater and dark jeans in the CT area. He may already be in the NYC area. Image taken from the bookstore of Morgan appears below:

shooter

If you have any information, please call 911 and contact Middletown CT Police:

Chief of Police:
Lynn M. Baldoni
222 Main Street
Middletown, CT 06457
Phone: (860) 344-3200

Deputy Chief of Police:

Patrick McMahon
222 Main Street
Middletown, CT 06457
Phone: (860) 344-3202

Main Number / Desk Sergeant:
222 Main Street
Middletown, CT 06457
Phone: (860) 344-3200

My thoughts are with Johanna Justin-Jinich’s family and with the Wesleyan community. For mor up to the minute information about this case, you might check Wesleyan blogger Tenured Radical.

One thought on “Another DSV Related “School Shooting”; Another Man Hunt

  1. Pingback: Hot News » Wesleyan Shooting

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