An Indiana postal worker was gunned down on her mail route, allegedly by a 21-year-old man frustrated that she'd skipped his home because of his “aggressive” dog.
Tony Cushingberry-Mays allegedly opened fire on his mail carrier, Angela Summers, earlier this week after she refused to deliver his mail. The fatal shooting may have been fueled by an ongoing dispute related to “concerns” with the family’s dog, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com.
“[Cushingberry-Mays] stated the letter carrier was not delivering the mail because she was having a problem with the dog at his residence,” postal investigator Joseph J. De St. Jean wrote in the complaint.
The family’s home had been previously blacklisted by the United States Postal Service (USPS) due to “several issues” with the home’s canine, federal prosecutors said. On April 27, however, authorities say tensions stemming from the postal quarrel spilled out onto the street, ending in gunfire.
Cushingberry-Mays drew a pistol on the mail carrier in broad daylight after she purposely skipped the man’s household, investigators said.
“The letter carrier walked past his residence, did not deliver their mail, and proceeded to the next residence,” the criminal complaint stated.
The 21-year-old asked for his mail “several times,” but his demands were ignored, authorities said. The confrontation allegedly escalated further when Cushingberry-Mays approached the letter carrier, who pointed a can of mace at the dog owner, and doused him with the pepper spray.
Cushingberry-Mays then allegedly pulled a pistol from his waistband, fired a single shot at the postal worker, and fled the property, according to investigators. Summers sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. A neighbor told authorities she emerged from her home to find the mail carrier “slumped” outside her front door. She was rushed to hospital where she later died. The Marion County Coroner’s Office ruled her death a homicide.
Cushingberry-Mays was arrested by local authorities and federal agents the next day in connection with the fatal shooting. He’s been charged with second-degree murder, assaulting a federal employee, and discharging a firearm in relation to a violent crime, according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
“U.S. Postal Inspectors are charged with ensuring the safety and security of USPS employees, and that is a charge that we do not take lightly,” Detroit Division acting inspector in charge Felicia George said in a statement.
The 21-year-old Indiana man allegedly confessed to shooting Summers outside his mother’s home and told authorities he stashed the gun in the home’s garage. Authorities seized live ammunition from a safe at the residence, which matched the caliber and brand of a spent casing found near the porch where Summers was shot, according to the criminal complaint. He allegedly told detectives he intended to “scare,” not kill, his letter carrier.
"We are saddened to learn of such a tragic death of one of our own employees and coworkers,” the USPS said in a statement sent to Oxygen.com. “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to her family and friends, including the many people she worked with at the Postal Service.”
A $50,000 reward had previously been offered for information leading to the arrest of the postal worker's suspected killer. News of her murder infuriated — and provoked emotional responses — from postal workers coast to coast.
“We’re a big family,” Paul Toms, president of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 39, told Oxygen.com. “We call ourselves brothers and sisters — it’s a senseless tragedy. It’s been the worst week in my career.”
The Indianapolis family’s dog appeared to have become a chronic problem for Summers in the weeks leading up to her shooting, according to investigators and postal officials.
“There had been a history at this address — and the history was an aggressive dog there,” Toms added.
USPS sent three letters to the family warning them to keep their dog inside, the criminal complaint alleged. The final letter, sent on April 13, notified residents that their address had been removed from the mail route — and that they could retrieve their mail directly from a local post office.
“The warning letter is to let them know to correct this aggressive dog,” Toms stated. “That didn’t take care of it. A second one is sent. That still didn’t take care of it. So when a third one is sent, it’s also a curtailment of the mail until the patron corrects the situation.”
The family previously confronted Summers over the whereabouts of their government stimulus paycheck related to the COVID-19 outbreak, according to Toms.
“There was an issue with her at this address where they asked her about the stimulus checks and she couldn’t deliver them because the mail was curtailed,” he said.
However, the 21-year-old told detectives he had never spoken with Summers prior to the shooting, according to the criminal complaint.
Summers joined the postal service as a letter carrier in 2018. She worked at a post office on the city’s east side, blocks away from where she was shot and killed.
“She put service in the postal service,” Toms said. “She always had a smile and was upbeat. Her co-workers thought the world of her as did many of the patrons she delivered mail to. We’re going to miss her.”
Toms, a retired mail carrier who spent four decades working mail routes, knew Summers personally. He described her as a "beloved" mail carrier and a “wonderful person.”
The 45-year-old was also a “dedicated” mother, according to her family.
“She never got the opportunity to tell her daughter that she loved her one last time,” her former spouse, Mel Davis, wrote on a GoFundMe page that’s been organized for the family. "Our daughter wasn't able to see her for a-month-and-a-half due to the coronavirus travel restrictions and Angela's essential worker exposure risk. Now, she never will.”
The couple divorced in 2013, court records show.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Indiana declined to comment on the murder investigation this week.
Cushingberry-Mays could face a maximum of life in prison if convicted in Summers' murder.
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