Ohio State University Shooter Had a Criminal History

Jason Morris

I am a little late to the game with this one as I have been attending the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  Workplace violence issues have been on the rise in 2009 and 2010.  In the last two months alone, we have had two involving college campuses in the United States.  Of course being from Ohio this one hits closer to home than any of them.  It appears Nathaniel Brown opened fire on some of his co-workers the other day at The Ohio State University.  Brown had a poor performance review which lead to him shoot two supervisors killing one, then himself.

Records also show Brown served about five years in prison on a charge of receiving stolen property. He lied about his criminal history on his job application, and it wasn’t clear whether Ohio State had completed a background check.

BrownAccording to other reports he was a threat at his last job as well.  Background checks are important for 100% of your staff.  Not only does it create a workplace filled with qualified employees, it protects them!  There is no silver bullet that will prevent workplace violence (see our white paper from last month), but in this case I believe a quality background check would have prevented this!  If his past conviction didn’t disqualify him, his obvious recklessness at his past employer might have! A simple check of his past references could have saved lives!

Former Co-Worker Says OSU Gunman Threatened Him

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While Nathaniel Brown’s neighbors said they never imagined he was capable of opening fire on his co-workers, a man who used to work with him at a Columbus car dealership said otherwise on Tuesday.

The man, who asked not to be identified, said he feared Brown would do something violent years earlier, 10TV’s Kevin Landers reported.

“He was the type of person that everyone in our dealership tried to stay away from,” the man said.

He said Brown threatened to kill him and two others at the dealership before he was let go in 2004.

On Tuesday, after Brown was identified as the gunman who shot two employees at Ohio State, his former co-worker said he was not surprised.

“When I heard Nathaniel Brown, I looked over to my mother and said, ‘He’s finally killed someone,'” he said.

Records obtained by 10TV showed that Brown was sentenced to prison from 1979 to 1984 for receiving stolen property. He was hired as a custodian at Ohio State in October 2009.

It was not clear if Ohio State was required to conduct a criminal background check on Brown, but on his application for employment, Brown checked a box that said he had never been convicted of a felony, Landers reported.


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Jason Morris

President & Chief Operating Officer at EmployeeScreenIQ
A veteran screening and risk management professional, Jason Morris founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and acts as the company’s chief operating officer and president. Morris is a frequent speaker delivering captivating, interactive discussions on background checks, global screening, recruitment and staffing. He educates audiences in best practice initiatives as they relate to organizational employment screening programs. Morris has been quoted in numerous business and industry publications including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, USA Today, New York Times, among others. He is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
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  • Great post. I was just blogging about this too. In addition proper background screening, I believe the University should have never let an employee know, in advance, that they were being terminated.