A former postal worker armed with a shotgun held seven people hostage at a regional mail center here for nearly 10 hours Wednesday before releasing them and being taken into custody.
Authorities said David Lee Jackson, 42, who was fired 18 months ago for threatening his supervisor, had entered the office through an unprotected loading dock.
“He was tired and wanted to see a peaceful resolution,” Denver police spokesman Dennis Cribari said. “He wanted to get out of the jam he was in.”
Cribari said the ordeal began when Jackson “entered the dock area and started shouting at people, immediately taking control of the office.”
During the standoff, about 50 officers - including SWAT and bomb squad members - were joined by 25 FBI agents and 25 postal inspectors as authorities cordoned off the area. Hundreds of workers were evacuated.
Throughout the day, no shots were fired and none of the six men and one woman held hostage was injured. About 75 people continued to sort Christmas packages and letters in a different part of the building. The plant is one of the nation’s largest and busiest, handling most of the mail for Colorado and Wyoming.
A witness, Postal Service maintenance specialist Michael Young, 34, said he saw people rushing from the dock area during a shift change about 7:15 a.m. For Young, it was a grim reminder of several violent encounters in recent years between labor and management in the Postal Service.
“My first thoughts were, ‘Oh no, not again … and not today!’ ” Young said. “We seem to have a lot of violence in our whole organization.”
Last Friday, a 37-year-old postal worker in Milwaukee shot and killed a co-worker he had argued with, wounded a supervisor who had scolded him and injured another worker before killing himself.
“In many of our facilities, we have a very good, safe and healthy environment,” said Al DeSarro, spokesman for the Postal Service’s Western region. “When you have a situation like this, it’s more a representation of what’s happening in society. Not a reflection of the workplace.”
Still, authorities say shootings by postal workers have become a frequent occurrence in the last 10 years.