SAN FRANCISCO – Only five of nearly 40 San Francisco UPS workers have returned to work after witnessing the fatal shootings of three colleagues last month, a union official said.
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The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the small number of people who have returned to work stems from fear of the unknown.
"People are afraid," said Joe Cilia, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters Local 2785, the drivers' union. "It's tough. People are starting to wonder what's going to happen going forward, and they're not able to go back to work."
On June 14, UPS driver Jimmy Lam, 38, fatally shot three fellow drivers and wounded two others during a morning meeting before the day's deliveries. He then killed himself in front of police.
Within half an hour of the first police call, a team of service providers specially trained to assist in mass shootings rushed to the scene and helped drivers who had run from the building when the shooting started.
"Law enforcement's role is to provide safety and contain the incident. Our role is to support and intervene for the victims," said Dr. Gena Castro Rodriguez, chief of the victim services division of the San Francisco district attorney's office.
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Her group, created by District Attorney George Gascon's office after the December 2015 attack in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead at a gathering of government workers, is one of the first in the state specially trained to respond to mass-casualty events.
Leopold Parker, 53, was in the drivers' morning meeting at the Potrero Hill building when Lam started shooting.
Although he isn't back on the job, he's been back to the office to speak with the counselors.
"So far, I'm doing OK," said Parker, who saw Lam shoot the first victim, Benson Louie, right in front of him. "I'm just worried about our younger drivers. I don't know what those guys are going through. It's been bad enough for me seeing a guy take a bullet."
Many drivers are working through the shock of what happened that day and struggling with the fact that they'll probably never know why Lam turned on his colleagues.
"In some cases, the justice system gives some closure," Rodriguez said during an interview with the newspaper. "In this case, because the shooter is also deceased, we're never going to really know what the motivation was or what the thoughts were, so that's going to linger for some families."
Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com