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Toll rises to 8 in ex-postal worker’s rampage

Did racism motivate killer in the California slayings?

SHARE Toll rises to 8 in ex-postal worker’s rampage

GOLETA, Calif. — A woman wounded in a rampage by a former postal worker died Wednesday, and investigators said the assailant also killed a former neighbor just before the attack, bringing the death toll to eight.

A former postal worker said the attacker had spewed racist comments in the past, and six of the victims were minorities, but investigators have refused to discuss a motive in the slayings.

The eighth victim, Beverly Graham, 54, was found Tuesday, dead of a gunshot wound to the head, at a Santa Barbara condominium complex where former postal employee Jennifer San Marco lived up until a few years ago.

Sheriff's Sgt. Erik Raney said authorities believed Graham's death was "the beginning of this rampage." Investigators matched several 9 mm shell casings found at Graham's condo to casings from the postal distribution center.

A neighbor of Graham's reported hearing a gunshot Monday evening, before San Marco went to the mail-processing center.

San Marco shot six postal employees to death and committed suicide in what was believed to be the nation's deadliest workplace shooting by a woman. It was also the nation's bloodiest shooting at a postal installation in nearly 20 years.

A postal worker who was shot in the head, Charlotte Colton, 44, died of her wounds Wednesday, said Teresa Rounds, spokeswoman for Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Former plant worker Jeff Tabala recalled that San Marco, who was white, seemed particularly hostile to Asians while working for the Postal Service.

He said all of the slain postal workers were minorities: Three were black, one was Chinese-American, one was Hispanic and one was Filipino. Authorities said Graham was white.

Investigators gave no motive for the postal rampage but said San Marco had been put on medical leave in 2003 for psychological reasons and had to be removed from the building by deputies at least once.

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Anderson said officers took San Marco away from the postal center on Feb. 5, 2001, because "she was acting irrational." She was held for three days at a psychiatric hospital, but the sheriff did not know if any diagnosis was made.

Tabala said he watched deputies pull San Marco out from under a mail-sorting machine and wheeled her away in handcuffs on a mail cart, but it was not immediately clear whether that occurred separately from the 2001 incident.

She returned to the plant several months later, but "people started coming to me and saying, 'She's acting erratically,' " Tabala said. "She was screaming. She was saying a lot of racist comments. It was pretty ugly."

San Marco was escorted out of the building by management and never returned, Tabala said.

"She seemed to be having conversations, and there wasn't anyone around her. She'd be just jabbering away." Tabala said.

After leaving her postal job, San Marco moved to New Mexico in late 2003 or early 2004 and lived in an isolated desert home. A deputy clerk for the city of Milan, N.M., said she once applied for a business license for a publication called "The Racist Press" but did not qualify.

Graham's boyfriend, Eddie Blomfield, said San Marco would often go outside singing loudly, which led to arguments between the women. Graham's brother Les Graham Jr. said his sister had complained about a woman who "used to come out and rant and rave in front of her building."

Authorities have said San Marco entered the mail plant by driving through a security gate close behind another vehicle, then taking an employee's badge at gunpoint. That employee was not harmed.

Oscar Villanueva, U.S. postal inspector in charge of the Los Angeles division, said the Goleta facility passed a safety review within the last two months.

"It was a model facility before. It continues to be a model facility today," he said. "There was no reasonable need to have security there."

Authorities in New Mexico also described San Marco's increasingly bizarre behavior after she lost her job. Police were contacted about San Marco at least twice after she was accused of harassing an office worker and appearing naked at a gas station. She was dressed when officers arrived.