August 10, 1977: 5 Times People “Went Postal!”

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A Brief History

On August 10, 1977, David Berkowitz, known popularly as “Son of Sam,” a serial killer in New York, was arrested for murders in the New York area over the past year.  It so happens that Berkowitz was a Postal worker, an occupation that has become synonymous in the United States with frustration and exploding rage.  Here we list 5 Times People “Went Postal!” with those “people” being postal employees.  Who would you add to the list?  (There have been at least 23 Postal and parcel service related shootings since 1975 in the US, not including Berkowitz.)

Digging Deeper

1. David Berkowitz, 1977. 

This serial killer was caught through good police work analyzing parking tickets in the areas around crime scenes.  The “Sam” in his nickname referred to his neighbor’s dog, which may be a clue as to his nuttiness.  Berkowitz managed to kill 6 people and wound another 8 with his Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldog revolver, hence his other nickname, “The .44 Caliber Killer.”  Born Richard David Falco, Berkowitz was illegitimate and apparently was tormented by that fact.  His job as a letter sorter for the US Postal Service does not seem to have played a role in his murderous rampage, but who knows?   The image above shows one of his unnerving letters to the police.

2. Patrick Sherrill, 1986.

Described by his (surviving) co-workers as irritable and feeling as if he was being picked on by bosses, Pat was a “relief” letter carrier in Oklahoma without a permanent route and the stability that comes with an assignment at the same time and place daily.  When he cracked, he shot 20 co-workers, killing 14 of them and then killing himself.  Sherrill committed his assault with 2 X 1911 type .45 caliber pistols and a Ruger .22 caliber semi-auto pistol.  (No “assault weapon” or large capacity magazine needed to inflict mayhem.)  The rampage by Sherrill is largely responsible for the term, “Going Postal.”  The photograph above shows the memorial to the victims.

3. Grant Gallaher, 2006.

This stressed out letter carrier was tormented by being the subject of a “work-time study” and had just had another 20 minutes added to his route.  Aiming to kill the local (Baker City, Oregon seen in the photograph above) postmaster, Grant brought his .357 Magnum revolver to work, but recognizing an opportunity when he saw it, Grant ran over his supervisor in the parking lot with his car.  Unable to find the postmaster inside the Postal building, Grant went back outside and shot his supervisor, and then shot his supervisor’s car.

4. Jennifer San Marco, 2006.

Holding the apparent record of killings by an American female postal worker, Jenn (seen in the photograph above) had been forced to retire from the Post Office due to a deteriorating mental condition.  She took a handgun to her old workplace in Goleta, California and killed 6 postal employees, then shot herself.  She also shot a woman to death in her condominium prior to the Post Office assault.  San Marco used a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol in her tirade.

5. 2 Incidents on 1 Day, 1993.

At Dana Point, California (seen above), distraught Postal worker killed his mother and his dog, then went to the Post Office to kill 2 workers.  (His dog?  What a jerk!)  In Dearborn, Michigan, Lawrence Jansion killed a Postal worker and wounded 3 more, then killed himself.  Because of these 2 incidents, the Postal Service created a new job, “Workplace Environment Analyst,” and assigned 1 to each of the 85 Postal Districts, but turned around and eliminated the jobs in 2009 in order to save money.  (Money apparently being more important than people!)

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.