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Memphis postal worker killings raise concerns about stress on the job

Postal workers returned to their jobs Wednesday after the shooting of a supervisor and manager by a letter carrier inside a sorting facility in Orange Mound.
Credit: AP
U.S. Postal Service vehicles sit in a parking lot of a facility where authorities said a postal employee fatally shot two workers before dying from a self-inflicted gunshot Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021 in Memphis, Tenn. The U.S. Postal Inspection service and other federal agencies are investigating Tuesday's shooting, which took place at a postal annex located in a historic Memphis neighborhood. The victims and the shooter have not been identified. (AP Photo/Adrian Sainz)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Postal workers returned to their jobs Wednesday after the shooting of a supervisor and manager by a letter carrier inside a sorting facility in Tennessee, where a colleague said the pandemic is putting U.S. Postal Service employees nationwide under stress.

Two workers were fatally shot Tuesday by a third who died from a self-inflicted gunshot, authorities said. The FBI and U.S. Postal Service didn’t immediately name those involved or disclose a motive for the shooting.

The facility in the Orange Mound neighborhood reopened hours after the bodies were removed, with workers entering the building, and red, white and blue vans leaving the fenced-in parking lot to deliver the day’s mail.

RELATED: Names of two USPS employees killed in shooting at Orange Mound U.S. Postal Service facility confirmed

Shri Green, area vice president for the National Association of Postal Supervisors, told The Associated Press that a letter carrier shot a manager and a supervisor. Green said she did not know the motive, but “obviously, something was going on, in the carrier's mind.”

Green, a retired postal transportation manager, said the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more work absences and the hiring of new employees who are initially unfamiliar with the postal service, causing more stress among workers.

“It's a sign of the times,” Green said about the shooting. “The postal service altogether, they're working long hours, six or seven days a week. It's just stressful.”

The postal service also has been strained under the leadership of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, an appointee of former President Donald Trump whose operational changes caused widespread delivery delays as millions of citizens voted by mail in the 2020 election.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is tracing the weapon used in the shooting and submitting it to the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network to see if it turns up in any other shootings, spokesman Michael Knight said in an email to the AP.

On Tuesday, a family member identified one of the dead in the shooting as James Wilson, a manager at the East Lamar Carrier Annex.

“He was a humble soul, one of the nicest supervising managers you could ever wish there was,” Roxanne Rogers said of Wilson, her cousin, in local media reports.

Rogers, herself a postal worker, said Wilson had just returned to the annex after filling in at a different location.

Melvin Richardson, president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 96, said the annex is only used by employees. Carriers depart from annexes in the morning and staff remain throughout the day with tasks such as sorting mail.

The street in front of the flat-roofed building was closed for hours on Tuesday after the shooting, but traffic was flowing freely on Wednesday.

Floyd Norman said was working on his truck across the street when he saw people running out of the building. He watched the chaotic scene unfold from his front porch.

“I heard people screaming and hollering, and that’s when I saw the police come up,” said Norman, a 65-year-old retiree. “It’s just a lot of police, running with shotguns.”

Norman said he was not surprised that the mail sorting facility reopened the next day.

“The mail’s got to go out,” Norman said.

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