Worker On Zoom Call Witnesses Co-Worker’s Stabbing

Liz Carey

Altadena, CA (WorkersCompensation.com) – What Carol Brown’s colleagues saw on Zoom forced them to call the police.

Brown, 67, was working from home and talking to a co-worker virtually when they saw an unknown man drag her brother, Kenneth Preston, 69, out of the house she shared with him and violently attack him. Then, the attacker came for Brown.

According to a news release from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, the co-worker then called 9-1-1. Officers responded to Brown’s house and found her brother dead.

“When deputies arrived, they found a deceased male Black adult in the driveway of the location, who had been stabbed several times. They checked the inside of the location and found a deceased female Black adult inside the residence,” police said. “During the investigation, detectives learned that the female victim was conducting a Zoom call with a colleague, when the attack on the male occurred. The Zoom caller witnessed the attack on both the male and female and called 911 to report the crime.”

Brown and her co-worker were on the Zoom call when they saw the attacker, identified as Robert Cotton, 32, come into the room and grab Preston, Brown’s brother. Not long after, police say Cotton returned to the room and stabbed Brown to death.

According to the police, Brown was Cotton’s mother and Preston was his uncle.

Following the stabbings, authorities allege Cotton took a Lexus from the home and hid it in the neighborhood, then walked back to the house. When police officers approached him, he told them he lived in the house.

The co-worker told police that she and Brown witnessed Cotton attacking Preston, and that she saw Cotton return to the room, but that she didn’t witness the actual stabbing.

Brown was an employee at Pasadena City College, where she worked for more than 20 years. At the time of her death, she was the coordinator for the college’s Black STEM program.

“Yesterday afternoon our PCC family suffered a terrible loss,” said Erika Endrijonas, college president and superintendent, in a statement. “The incident occurred during a remote conference call with other college employees. We grieve with her family and we hold them in our hearts as we reflect on her life, mourn her loss, and carry on her legacy through our actions.”

Cotton was arrested and booked on suspicion of murder. He was being held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles. Bond was set at $2 million. Cotton is scheduled to appear in court today.

Additional Incidents

It’s the latest incident of death over Zoom in the workplace.

On May 22, about 20 people were gathered on Zoom for a conference call when one of the group’s members, Dwight Powers, 72, slumped over and slid from his chair. Behind him, the onlookers said, his son, Thomas Scully-Powers, 32, stood naked. The group watched as Thomas stripped sheets from the bed in the room and placed it over something on the floor. Several people on the call, called the incident into the police.

When police arrived, they found Dwight Powers dead on the floor. Thomas Scully-Powers tried to run and jumped out of a second floor window. He was apprehended about a mile away and arrested for the murder of his father.

And in August, a 10-year-old girl in Indiantown, Fla., had just logged on to her first Zoom class when her mother was shot to death.

Police said the girl and her teacher and classmates at Warfield Elementary were logging in for their class just after 8 a.m., when screaming and profanity could be heard in the background. The girl’s teacher muted the audio so the other children wouldn’t hear. About that time, the teacher said, the girl raised her hands to cover her ears. Gunfire broke out and one of the bullets struck the girl’s computer making the screen go blank. The girl’s mother, Maribel Rosado, 32, had been shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend, Donald L. Williams, III, 27.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said Williams was taken into custody within an hour of the shooting and charged with first degree murder, among other charges.

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