As postal employees in Goleta reported back to work Thursday, community groups rallied to their support and counselors tried to help them come to terms with the carnage that invaded their night shift earlier in the week.
U.S. Postmaster General John Potter was on hand to offer his condolences at the mail-sorting facility where a former employee fatally shot six workers Monday night before turning her semiautomatic pistol on herself.
Perhaps an hour before her rampage, Jennifer Sanmarco, 44, had slain a former neighbor at the Goleta condominium complex where she had lived before moving to New Mexico in 2004.
About 80 workers were on duty during Sanmarco’s rampage, but all 300 employees at the facility were placed on paid leave after the attack.
On Thursday, some conferred with counselors stationed in trailers outside the warehouse-like facility.
“It’s certainly not a normal day at work,” said U.S. Postal Service spokesman Rich Maher. “We’re letting them get back into it at their own pace. Some want to get back into the routine as soon as possible, and others just want to talk with the counselors.”
Flags at all postal facilities in California are being flown at half-staff, and the postal service was planning a memorial observance.
Counselors have met with the families of each slain employee, Maher said. Personnel specialists will expedite their life-insurance settlements and other benefits. The postal service will pay for the workers’ funerals.
A local bank and a credit union have established funds for the postal workers’ families.
Three of the victims had accounts at South Coast Community Federal Credit Union, which is accepting donations for all six families. Checks may be made out to Families of Goleta Postal Center and sent to the credit union at 5784 Calle Real, Goleta CA 93117.
Community West Bank has set up the Goleta Post Office Memorial Fund, which will funnel money to the families through Hospice of Santa Barbara. Checks may be mailed to the bank at 5827 Hollister Ave., Goleta CA 93117. Friends of Charlotte Colton, one of the victims, may also send checks to the Community West address for the Charlotte Colton Memorial Scholarship Fund, set up on behalf of her three sons.
Police have not yet learned of a motive for the slayings, but unmistakable signs of Sanmarco’s mental health problems have emerged throughout the week.
In November, she talked to the Los Angeles Times about placing a classified ad urging readers to send $4 per copy for a publication she had started called “The Racist Press,” it was disclosed Thursday.
The proposed ad read: “Been a member of a Cult? Did that fad go out in the ‘70s-'80s? Any unexplained suicides? Please read The Racist Press, PO Box 3393, Milan NM 87020.”
Sanmarco was instructed to submit a copy of her publication -- a standard procedure for mail-order ads. She never did, and the ad never ran.
The Racist Press appeared at least once. In a seven-page copy obtained by a Santa Barbara newspaper, Sanmarco’s ideas were impossible to follow and her stand on racism was murky.
In one passage cited by the Santa Barbara News-Press, she expounded on the dangers of mental telepathy: “For example, some events like a loud pop (an actual gunshot, with the intent to kill) is not so easy to retreat at any time. A telepathic network does not come easy and I would imagine persons with the objective of gathering of information pay a high cost when secrets are divulged.”