A former employee of the U.S. Postal Service, facing a "mountain of debt," returned to the tiny neighborhood post office where he once worked and coldly executed two workers and two customers in a robbery, prosecutors charged Wednesday.
The slayings left residents of Montclair, N.J., a suburban community close to New York City, in shock over the viciousness of the crime.
Police arrested Christopher Green, 29, at his apartment four miles from the site of the slayings. In the apartment, police found a 9-millimeter handgun, $2,000 in cash hidden under the refrigerator and bloody clothes in a nearby dumpster, officials said.
Faith Hochberg, the U.S. attorney in Newark, N.J., where Green was being held without bail, said investigators had received a telephone tip from someone who knew the suspect. She declined to elaborate.
Hochberg charged that Green had entered the post office in Montclair just before it was to close at 4 p.m. Tuesday and forced the five people present into the back, then shot them. One man survived. Hochberg said Green, carrying more than $5,000, fled in a car belonging to one of his victims.
"He ordered them to lie down on the ground and just shot them," Hochberg said. She charged that Green had shot his victims "because they could identify him."
Postal inspector Kevin Manley said Green had confessed, telling investigators he needed the money because he owed back rent on his apartment and was "in a mountain of debt." Green, who worked part time in the Montclair post office in 1992-93, currently is employed by the Montclair Public Works Department. Hochberg said the suspect had no previous criminal record.
As a part-time postal worker, Green had served alongside two of his victims, Ernie Spruill, 56, a 30-year postal service veteran who was about to retire, and Stanley Walensky, 42. Police identified the customers who were killed as Robert Leslie, 38, and George Lomoga, 59. A third customer, David Grossman, 56, remained in critical condition Wednesday with bullet wounds to the head.
Despite the seriousness of his wounds, investigators managed to gain information from Grossman.
"He communicated via his hands and his toes, and we did have another opportunity this morning to interview him," said Montclair Police Chief Thomas Russo.