Hot Dips (littlewashu) wrote,
Hot Dips

Postal violence in my hometown.

Hmm. So, Norm said something about the whole postal worker-violence thing, and one of those instances happened in my town, coincidentally enough, when I was in eighth grade. So since I don't remember the whole story, I looked it up on the Itnernet, and man! It was bloody!

The following text I got from here, but the site's real ugly and it goes from one page to the next, so I've just pasted it here for your convenience:

Joseph M. Harris, a 35 year old Navy veteran had trouble sleeping on the night of October 9, 1991. Waking before midnight, he dressed in a bullet-proof vest, black military fatigues, combat boots, and a black silk ninja-style hood.

Writing a two page note, he referred to the Edmond, Oklahoma deaths and explained his own unfair treatment by the Postal Service. Carol Ott, a supervisor at the Ridgewood, New Jersey post office where Harris worked nights as a clerk, had had a personality conflict with him. Disregarding his twelve years of government service during which he had demonstrated no mental aberrations, she ordered him to take a "fitness for duty" psychological exam with a doctor chosen and paid by the Postal Service. Insulted, he refused to cooperate with the pseudo-psychological ruse and Ms. Ott instituted proceedings that resulted in Harris' dismissal in April 1990. The American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, did not make a reasonable effort to have him reinstated.

Armed with a 9 millimeter Uzi handgun, a .22 caliber machine gun with silencer, three hand grenades, some homemade ether bombs, and a samurai sword, he booby trapped the front door of his apartment and drove to the suburban home of Ms. Ott. After forcing entry, he found her clad only in a T-shirt. Swinging his sword in a great arc, he deeply slashed her left shoulder and continued to thrust as she staggered backwards. Stepping over her lifeless, nearly nude body, he crept down the stairs and shot her live-in boyfriend, Cornelius Kasten, Junior, behind the right ear as he sat watching television in the basement.

At approximately 2 AM on the morning of October 10, Harris entered the rear of the Ridgewood post office where he shot and killed two mail handlers, Joseph VanderPaauw and Donald Mc Naught. Barricading himself in the basement, he shot at truck driver Marcello Collado who had become suspicious when he arrived at the back dock and found nobody to help him unload his truck. Collado escaped unscathed and drove to the nearest police station. At 2:20 AM Sergeant Robert Kay and Officer Peter Tuchol attempted to enter the post office but were forced to retreat and await assistance when Harris lobbed an explosive device at them.

The Bergen County SWAT team surrounded the building and attempted to telephone Harris. Refusing to answer, he kept the SWAT team at bay until 6:30 AM when he surrendered to a police negotiator. At 7 AM the police removed a bomb made from automotive starting fluid from Harris' apartment door and the note detailing his grievances was found inside.

The Postal Service refused to give details of Joseph Harris' personnel file to reporters and a sign posted in the lobby of the post office ordered patrons ". . . do not ask the workers any questions regarding events of yesterday." Social workers and psychologists were brought in to instruct employees in how to deal with the experience and to shield them from inquiries from the press.

The Postal Service's business-as-usual, blame-it-on-a-psycho-vet, keep-a-lid-on-it, non-cooperation strategy was not without success. Only one major American newspaper picked up the story, despite its intriguing overtones and it curiously failed to spark the interest of editors on a day when the headlines concerned the nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Subsequently, it received little national coverage from weekly news magazines (influenced undoubtedly to no small degree by the fact that periodicals depend upon the issuance of a second class mailing permit from the Postal Service for distribution to their subscribers).

On the same day that Harris took the law into his own hands to redress his grievances in Ridgewood, New Jersey, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan met with Postmaster General Anthony M. Frank to discuss an unusually large number of complaints by employees and customers about the suburban Detroit, Royal Oak post office. "The Postal Service . . . acknowledged management problems in the Royal Oak operation," Senator Levin later stated. He was promised a prompt investigation by the Postmaster Gerneral.

End quote.

So yeah, how 'bout that? And they're right (it's a pro-usps site), they totally didn't make a big deal about it. I didn't even remember that he had killed anyone, and he killed what, four people? Man. So there's that for you.

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