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Gunman In Postal Shooting Dies, Police Still Seek Motive

August 12, 1989

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (AP) _ The mailman who killed his wife and two co-workers before ending the shooting spree with a bullet to his head has died.

John Merlin Taylor, 52, died Friday night at Palomar Medical Center, soon after relatives gave permission for discontinuation of life support, hospital spokesman Alain Jourdier said.

Police remain baffled by Taylor’s outburst Thursday and investigators seeking a motive said the answers may have died with Taylor.

A model employee with a domestic life police described as typically American, Taylor first shot his wife to death in the couple’s home and then drove to work at the Orange Glenn post office, where he killed two colleagues and wounded another.

Taylor then turned the gun on himself.

″It may be that Taylor just snapped,″ said Sgt. Dan Star, the police detective in charge of the case. ″We’re looking for the reason, but if we don’t find one soon, we’ll close the investigation.″

Investigators spent Friday interviewing dozens of witnesses and family members. Taylor’s home, located about seven blocks from the post office, and car also were searched but officers found no notes or letters to explain his actions.

Star said Taylor shot his wife in her sleep at least three times with a .22-caliber semiautomatic pistol, and then went to the post office, where he opened fire on two friends, Ronald Williams, 56, and Richard Berni, 38.

Williams and Berni were shot as they drank coffee and talked. Taylor typically joined them in the routine, Star said.

Taylor then went into the post office and fired at least five rounds, wounding postal clerk Paul Derisi in the arm.

At the postal station, the flag flew at half-staff Friday and a bouquet of flowers left by an unknown person rested at the base of the flagpole.

Flags at all San Diego County post offices will fly at half-staff until the funerals of the two postal employees.

Services for Williams were scheduled today. A service will be held Monday for Berni, while funeral arrangements were incomplete Friday for Taylor and Mrs. Taylor.

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