Two Shot at Postal Processing Center
PALATINE, Ill. (AP) _ A long-time postal worker accused of shooting two friends at work, leaving one critically injured, had been receiving treatment for severe depression, his lawyer said.
``He’s not a violent man,″ Terry Gillespie said of his client, Dorsey S. Thomas. ``My understanding is that Mr. Thomas has never been in trouble before in his life.″
Thomas’ co-workers agreed. ``Don’t make it seem like he was some type of vicious person, some fiend, because he was just a nice guy,″ said Willie Little.
Gillespie said Thomas, 53, was on an undetermined type of medication for physical problems and depression.
Investigators had not determined a motive for the shootings, said Postal Inspector Ida Gillis. She said Thomas, whom she described as a ``loner, a quiet individual,″ had acted normal at work until Tuesday morning.
He arrived for the start of the 7 a.m. shift in this suburb 31 miles northwest of Chicago, walked to the second floor sorting area and shot clerk Mike Mielke in the head and chest, witnesses and police said.
He then ran downstairs and shot clerk Steve Collura twice in the chest, kicked him and hit him with the semiautomatic pistol, investigators said.
Postal worker Cynthia Murray said she was on the first floor when she heard two quick shots, then saw panicked employees trying to leave the building. ``People were just falling all over each other,″ she said. ``I saw people trample over people and I saw the smoke from the gun.″
Thomas was arrested 20 miles away near his home in the suburb of Northlake. He was charged with attempted murder of two federal employees and ordered held until a bond hearing Thursday.
Collura, 45, was in good condition today. Mielke, 41, was in critical but stable condition after 2 1/2 hours of surgery.
``I can’t figure out why he did it,″ said clerk Maude Kelly, who had worked with Thomas and the victims for about 20 years. ``We’ve been here for a long time. He was just a beautiful guy. We would joke and laugh together.″
A tall man with graying hair, Thomas processed registered mail and had little contact with the public. Union officials said he had an exemplary record in about 20 years of service.
A recent federal report found that murder was the second leading cause of death on the job for postal workers and third for all workers.
On July 9, a postal worker allegedly killed his boss at a mail-processing center in City of Industry, Calif. On March 21, a former postal worker killed four people and wounded another at Montclair, N.J.
The American Postal Workers Union has been pressing for installation of metal detectors at all postal facilities, and the northwest Illinois chapter filed a grievance three years ago asking for around-the-clock armed guards at the Palatine building. The grievance is still pending, said Stanley Slupik, president of the local chapter.