Tag Archives: usps

More Deadly Than the Unabomber

Manhunt UnabomberThere have been many bombers, but “going postal” is a phrase which began due to several infamous USPS shootings, sparking discussion about workplace violence. It spawned books and a violent video game, Postal. While the Unabomber case was a significant tech-related case involving three deaths and 25 injuries, a more deadly incident in Edmond, Oklahoma was chilling: when postal clerk Pat Sherrill, about to be fired, turned his rage on co-workers, killing 14 and wounding five more. Within a decade 11 rampages at post offices ensued. Why? The monotony of the job, the relentlessly by-the-numbers demands of management, and mental illness. (Employee screening is lax: former military are given preference, regardless of their unresolved issues on battlefields.) People can “snap.” As for Ted Kaczynski, he is a Harvard educated mathematician now in supermax prison in Colorado. Unlike OJ Simpson, he will never walk free. His manifesto, which he preferred to call an “article,” discusses technology as the enemy of freedom, and he has things to say about AI, too.

unabomber manifesto

Apparently, he was friends with Timothy McVeigh of the Oklahoma City bombing, who was also at the prison prior to execution, and had things to say about Osama bin Laden wanting to access technology to pull a power play in a nationalistic sense, something that must be stopped. He also questioned the tendency of the media to produce fake news.

fake news PostalOn Oct. 10, 1991, former U.S. postal worker Joseph Harris shot two former co-workers to death at the post office in Ridgewood, New Jersey. The night before, Harris had killed his former supervisor, Carol Ott, with a three-foot samurai sword, and shot her fiance, Cornelius Kasten, in their home. After a four-hour standoff with police at the post office, Harris was arrested. His violent outburst was one of several high-profile attacks by postal workers that resulted in the addition of the phrase “going postal” to the American lexicon.

Harris, who was born in prison and had a lifetime of psychiatric problems, was fired from his job in April 1990. Harboring a grudge against his ex-employer, he began to stockpile automatic weapons, grenades, and ninja swords. Two years later, he learned that he had lost as much as $10,000 by investing it with broker Roy Edwards. Dressed in a black ninja costume, Harris entered Edwards’ Montville, New Jersey,home and handcuffed the family. After sexually assaulting Edwards’ wife and two daughters, he shot Edwards to death. Since hundreds of investors had lost money while dealing with Edwards, police never even considered Harris a suspect in his death until after the mass slaying on October 10.

Arguing that he was insane, Harris’ lawyers said that he had told psychiatrists that he was driven by the “ninja spirit” to commit the crimes. In 1992, Harris was convicted of both the Montville and Ridgewood attacks and was sent to death row. But in September 1996, two days before a New Jersey State Supreme Court battle to overturn its death-penalty law was to start, he died of natural causes.

It’s Cooler Up Here

Going Postal

He pushed through the swinging back doors into the carrier station.  People he’d seen every day for years were there, busy as usual.  He walked past them.  When he got to the big fan set up near the stairwell, he paused and stared into it.  Taking off his sunglasses for a moment, he gazed into the polished and spinning surface of the fan’s convex center hub.
—It was like a circus mirror.
—His face appeared fat, and drenched with sweat.  His bloodshot eyes stared back at him like a clown’s whose makeup had run.  He turned to look back at the others, wondering if they saw too, but no one cared for sideshows.
—The stairwell’s doorknob beckoned.  Gleaming.  Seeing a tiny but headless reflection of his body mirrored in it, he reached out his hand in fascination.  Then he gripped it.  Suddenly, resolutely.  Like a handshake.  Finally, he opened the door and stepped inside.
—Once on the staircase, he began to climb methodically, one step at a time.  Having come to return his postal carrier pack as he’d been instructed, he now opened the pack and withdrew the .45 automatic inside.  When he arrived at the top of the stairs, he opened the door into the office hallway, and could hear the secretaries chatting together.  —Laughing.
—It was cooler up here. Much cooler.
—He ran his hand across his matted hair, feeling for a moment the cold air streaming down from the vent nearest him.  Then he lifted his gun, and started down the hallway.  Walking past the offices, he fired as he went.  When he got to the corner office, he found station manager Ollie Westover behind his mahogany desk, on the phone.  A cup of black coffee was spilled across several papers.
—Ollie looked up and said, “No–don’t do it . . . Thompson, right?”
—“Right,” Thompson said.  And fired.
—Afterward, he went to the window, and gazed down at the street fronting the postal station.  As he waited, he felt the air conditioning coming from the vent above Ollie’s slowly cooling body.  Then, in the distance, he heard the expected sirens approach.  At last, several police cars and an unmarked white Cavalier arrived, screeching into the front lot, narrowly missing several patrons.
—He smiled sadly as he put the .45 to his own head.
—“Vaya con Dios,” he whispered.


(Excerpt from Postmarked for Death)

romantic suspense