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The coincidence was bizarre, but the events were disturbingly familiar. On Thursday, in both Michigan and California, disgruntled postal workers brought guns to work and shot their colleagues. Two of the victims died, one of the gunmen killed himself and the other fled into hiding.
Each case had its own twists. The gunman in Dearborn, Mich., a postal mechanic who had threatened co-workers in the past, was distraught at being passed over for a promotion. The man, Larry Jason, 45, opened fire with a handgun and a shotgun, killing one man and wounding two people before taking his own life.
The gunman in Dana Point, Calif., had been fired because of psychiatric problems that included threats to a female co-worker with whom he had become obsessed. After he apparently stabbed his mother and her dog to death at her home, Mark Hilbun, 38, went to the post office, where he killed one man and wounded another.
These were just the latest in a decade-long string of 12 similar incidents at post offices that have cost the lives of 29 people and raised serious questions about conditions for the Government’s largest workforce. A Congressional committee has found that the Postal Service’s 750,000 employees work under a combination of high stress and a “paramilitary style of management.” And it urged tougher employment screening procedures to weed out unstable people.