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Colleagues of Slain Mailman Pay Tribute With Procession

February 2, 1996

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A procession of 117 blue-and-white postal trucks made its way through the streets on Friday, following the route of a mailman who was shot to death during his morning rounds.

One by one, the trucks pulled up to the spot where Robert Budusky was slain, and the postal workers _ black ribbons pinned to their uniforms _ dropped red, white and blue carnations into a mailbag hanging from a fence.

The tribute lasted more than an hour.

``It’s like a brother went down,″ said Chuck Corsal, vice president of the letter carriers union in Hartford. `We do this same job and but for a matter of circumstance, it could have been any one of us.″

Budusky, a 35-year-old man who was engaged to be married, was delivering the mail Tuesday on the route he had walked for five years in Hartford’s violence-plagued North End when a man walked up behind him and shot him once in the head.

Police arrested Garfield Patterson, 26, shortly after the shooting. Patterson claimed God told him to do it, according to police.

``No one used to bother the mailman,″ said Joseph Martinelli, a letter carrier.``The worst thing we used to have to fear was the weather and animals. Now we have to worry about an animal like this just running up and shooting you.″

Tears streamed down the face of Annell McWhite, Budusky’s supervisor, as she hugged her colleagues before the procession began and handed out carnations.

``He was the greatest, the best carrier in the city,″ she said. ``He did everything by the book.″

Residents along Budusky’s route said they shared the grief of the postal workers but hoped the shooting would not further damage the reputation of their neighborhood, beset by poverty, drugs and crime.

``This could have happened anywhere,″ said Georgia Smith, who lives across the street from the site of the shooting.

Flags will be flown at half staff at all Hartford-area post offices, and postal vehicles will carry black ribbons through Feb. 10.

Budusky’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday in Meriden. A community group offered residents along Budusky’s route transportation to the service.

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