Last week, according to authorities, Willie Woods reached a breaking point. After receiving a series of verbal and written warnings for poor job performance in recent months, the Los Angeles city electrician calmly walked into Downtown's C. Erwin Piper Technical Center with a semiautomatic handgun, police say. Woods now stands accused of methodically gunning down four of his supervisors at the center, where he had worked for 12 years.
As usual after violence of this sort, many are asking if tragedy could have been prevented. More security guards? Entryway metal sensors that would have detected the pistol? Did the city react appropriately to indications that Woods could become violent? It has been suggested that the suspect's pattern of behavior over the last six months gave a strong foreshadowing of the murders. Woods, a radio repairman in the technical center's communication division, began having serious problems with his supervisors early this year. On several occasions he is reported to have reacted violently to negative reviews, in one instance hurling a chair across the room as he was being counseled by one of the men killed this month.