Arunya Rouch

This case has been met with much debate.  In fact, I myself debated on composing this blog because I was not sure that I can compose it in a way in which there will not be arguments later.  It is not that arguments ever really bother me per se though, it may just be my current mood, but I will give it a go.

On March 30, 2010 Arunya Rouch walked up to the vehicle her co-worker, Greg Janowski and pulled her 9mm handgun and shot him in the parking lot of the Publix store in Tarpon Springs Florida.  He was hit once in the head and once in the torso. She would then walk into the store where she was seen on video looking as if she was concealing her weapon.  She struggled with one employee and chased at least one while officers were responding.  Once the officers were inside and customers were running out screaming Arunya pointed her gun at the officers and fired.  They returned fire hitting her four times.  While Arunya was sent to the hospital, Greg was sent to the morgue.   

It would quickly be discovered that Arunya, who had received an award the week prior for working at the company five years, had been fired earlier that morning.  She was fired because three days prior Greg Janowski had reported to the higher ups that Arunya was working off the clock, something that was frowned upon and in essence forbidden.  In turn Arunya had threatened Greg in some way to which he also reported that.  It was apparently the threat to Greg, who's family was actually deep rooted in Publix that had gotten her fired.

It appears she had gone home, retrieved a gun and several rounds of ammo and went back to the store. It was speculated that Greg was just the first of more than one targets that Arunya had in mind that day.  

Almost immediately it seems that sides were taken.  Arunya's husband and his family were claiming that Arunya had been bullied and treated horribly at her job by Greg Janowski and others.  Others would say that Arunya did not understand the culture completely and took things as being offensive that generally would be taken in jest.  Still at least one person appeared to stay fairly neutral in the beginning but by the time of trial she was victim bashing herself.

While she was in the hospital, in and out of consciousness, she was charged with 1st degree murder, two counts of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer and two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm.  As the debate raged on as to just what happened to cause her to commit this crime she was eventually put on trial in June of 2012.  

The defense argued, as her family had, that she was harassed and bullied while working at the store.  And that she had suffered "from a form" of PTSD after being fired.  While she did not testify in her own defense her husband testified for the defense.  He made the harassment claims as well as he mentioned that six to eight months prior to the incident she had mentioned she worried about her mental health.  I must say that I find this statement interesting because prior to the trial there were several articles written, many with statements from her husband and his parents that never seemed to mention this.  However, I had found an article written close to the time of the trial in which the topic was women who committed workplace rampages.  Women make up only a very small percentage of workplace rampages and while it mentioned a few cases, including this one, it was mentioned that this case was of the rarity as it did not involve any issue with mental illness prior to the incident.  In other cases mental instability had been an issue in the woman's life at least at one point or another. And now suddenly her husband mentions it on the stand.  It does not appear however that any mental issues she may have had were severe enough to warrant treatment. One could argue the stigma that comes with mental illness that prevent many from seeking treatment as well as her heritage, she had immigrated from Thailand, if the culture had a position on mental illness, I am unsure. Another thing that was interesting in this article discussing women in the workplace rampages was that their numbers appear to be so low because women are less likely to be so devoted to their job or rely on it exclusively. Now of course there are cases of single mothers who only have their pay check to support their family but in the same respect they are mothers and know they have a much larger responsibility of people depending on them.  In this case while obviously Arunya was married she did not have any children to take her attention or devotion away from her job.  Add to this her culture of taking work seriously and this could explain things.

A friend and co-worker of Arunya's also testified at her trial but I have to say I am uncertain of her credibility.  This same woman had been interviewed by the media, almost from the beginning.  She had stated that she was friends with Arunya but also friends with Greg Janowski and while she initially seemed to indicate that Greg was not particularly aiming at Arunya in a harassing or bullying manner he was a jovial and joking man who Arunya may have misunderstood or taken in the wrong way.  However, at trial she testified that Greg had made comments such as "he was going to get that chink fired," and teasing that her haircut made her look like a boy.  

Other co-workers, including the one I mentioned above, were quoted as saying that she was a very demanding person and highly critical of those around her, making her difficult to work with.  There were "jokes" of her being "anal" when approaching her job. 

Her husband, who worked at another Publix store stated that Arunya was attempting to transfer stores due to what they called the harassment at the time of her firing.  But, I have to be honest in saying that I am unsure that a store change would help.  It appears that Arunya was not a very social person who fit in well with others and there may have been a language barrier in there also.  It appears that the only people who spoke in her defense, whether it was in the media or in court were her husband, his parents and this one sole "friend" who was a co-worker.  Unlike so many other crimes committed where people come out of the woodwork saying this was not a behavior they had seen or ever expected and friends are lobbying to offer support, especially if the claims of bullying and harassing are true, that was not seen here.  

In the end the jury found her guilty on all charges.  She was sentenced to life for 1st degree murder and on one of the charges of attempted assault on a police officer.  On the remaining counts she was given a twenty year sentence for 2nd degree attempted murder and two five year sentences for the two counts of aggravated assault.  

I found nothing to indicate that an appeal has been heard in this case.

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