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Anthony J. DeCULIT





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Postal worker - Revenge
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 18, 1997
Date of birth: 1960
Victim profile: Russell "Dan" Smith, 42 (co-worker)
Method of murder: Shooting (9mm handgun)
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day

Postal Worker in Milwaukee Shoots 3 and Kills Himself

The New York Times

Saturday, December 20, 1997

In the middle of a busy holiday shift here, a postal worker pulled a pistol early today, shot a supervisor who had disciplined him and then wounded two other co-workers before taking his own life.

About 1,500 workers were on duty at the city's main post office when the shooting started about 12:45 A.M. As workers ducked for cover and ran to get out, the gunman, Anthony J. DeCulit, 37, fired as many as a dozen shots from a 9-millimeter handgun.

Joan Chitwood, 55, the supervisor who had written Mr. DeCulit a letter of reprimand for sleeping on the job, was shot in the right eye. Ms. Chitwood underwent surgery and was expected to live.

Russell Smith, 42, who worked next to Mr. DeCulit but was not on speaking terms with him, was shot to death. A third co-worker, Roderick Patterson, was treated and released at a hospital for a bullet wound to the foot which he received while fleeing the room.

The president of the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., Felmers Chaney, said at a news conference that racial discrimination might have played a part in setting off Mr. Deculit. The gunman was black; his three victims are white.

Mr. Chaney said he had warned postal officials about the problem.

''I told them, 'You're going to have a shooting here,' '' he said. ''Now, I feel like telling them, 'I told you so.' ''

Mr. Chaney said the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had received more than 80 complaints from Milwaukee postal workers over the past eight years. Most recently, four former postal supervisors, all black, filed a suit in Federal District Court here, contending they had been demoted after writing a letter complaining of racial harassment by a white supervisor and other problems.

In their letter, the black supervisors told the head of the Milwaukee district postal service that there was ''a ton of pent-up hostility ready to explode.'' Soon after the letter was received, the suit contends, the four complainants were demoted and told that their letter was seen as threatening.

Mr. DeCulit, a former Marine whose shift was from 10 P.M. to 6:30 A.M., had been disappointed recently after he applied for a daytime job at a branch station. A co-worker, Michael Witkowski, said Mr. DeCulit was given the job only to have it taken away after a week or two on it because a mistake had been made. The job was given to an employee with more seniority.

Mr. Witkowski said he went to Mr. DeCulit this morning when he realized what was happening and begged him to stop shooting.

''I said, 'Tony, you don't want to do this!' '' said Mr. Witkowski, still wearing blood-drenched blue jeans. ''He turned to me and said, 'Mike, you don't want to be here.' ''

Mr. Witkowski said that he begged Mr. DeCulit to allow him to take the dying Mr. Smith from the room and that the gunman waved his gun in assent as he paced about. Ms. Chitwood had already been taken out by other employees.

Mr. Witkowski said he asked Mr. DeCulit to think about his wife and a newborn child.

At about that time, a police officer who had been dropping off letter at a mailbox in the building arrived at the scene. He confronted Mr. DeCulit and told him to drop his gun. Mr. DeCulit put the barrel in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

In the past decade, there have been several shootings by postal employees.

The worst incident was in August 1986 when Patrick Henry Sherrill, a letter carrier in Edmond, Okla., killed 14 colleagues and himself.


Milwaukee Postal Worker Kills 1 and Self

Two Others Wounded

Milwaukee, Dec. 19, 1997

Turned down for promotion to a day job and written up for sleeping at work, a postal clerk pulled a pistol and settled some old scores during an overnight, holiday-rush shift Friday.

Anthony Deculit, 37, killed a co-worker he had feuded with, wounded the supervisor who had reprimanded him and injured another worker before he put the 9mm handgun in his mouth and ended his own life, even as friends begged him not to do it.

"I said,'Tony, you got a wife, a brand new baby, Christmas is right around the corner and in five days we'll be off...You don't want to do this," said postal worker Michael Witkowski.

The latest post office shooting--so common now that the phrase "going postal" has become slag for a violent outburst--erupted out of the tedium of early morning mail sorting.

Shootings Happened On Overnight Shift

About 1,500 workers were on duty at the city's main postal facility when the shots rang out about 12:45 a.m. Workers ducked for cover and scrambled to get out. One even set off a fire alarm. The first police officer on the scene happened to be in the building mailing a letter.

As many as a dozen shots were fired, and among the first targets was Deculit's supervisor, Joan Chitwood, who was hit in the right eye.

The 55-year-old Chitwood, who was hospitalized Friday in satisfactory condition, last month sent Deculit a warning letter after catching him sleeping on the job.

Deculit, who was placed on five months' probation, responded by filing a grievance against Chitwwod and requested a transfer to another facility where he could be placed on the day shift. The postal union said the four-year veteran of the Postal Service was turned down flat.

Race May Have Played a Role

There was also tension between Deculit and the man he killed. Co-workers said Deculit and Russell "Dan" Smith, 42, had several disagreements and disliked each other so much they didn't speak on the job.

Racial discrimination may have played a part in setting off Deculit, the NAACP said. The gunman was black and his three victims were white.

Smith was shot in the head, back and arm, and another postal worker was slightly injured with a shot to the foot.

After the burst of gunfire, Witkowski found himself looking down the barrel of Deculit's gun.

"He was standing there pointing the gun at me," Witkowski said. "He said, 'Mike, you don't want to be here.' And I told him, 'Tony don't do this.'"

Gunman Asked Witkowski to Call His Wife

Deculit asked Witkowski to call his wife and gave him the phone number. Witkowski wote it down on a piece of mail.

Seconds later, Deculit turned the gun on himself.

"He blew his brains out," Witkowski said, "I don't get it."

Invistagators did not know how Deculit got the gun into the building, said postal inspector Ida Gillis. The office plans to deploy postal police in uniforms at the facility until a secuity review is done, she said.

In the past decade, shootings by postal employees have become all too common.

The worst incident was in August 1986 when Patrick Henry Sherrill, a part-time letter carrier in Edmond, Okla. killed 14 colleagues and himself. He faced the posibility of being fired.

In September, a postal clerk in Miami Beach shot his former wife and her friend as they stood in line at the post office, then killed himself. The women survived.

The Postal Service has worked to improve training of supervisors and identification of problem employees.


Anthony DeCulit

In keeping with a lethal holiday tradition, Anthony Deculit -- a postal worker who had been turned down for a transfer to the day shift -- opened fire in Milwaukee's main post office, killing a co-worker and wounding two others before killing himself. 

"He was standing there pointing the gun at me," said fellow postal worker, Michael Witkowski. "He said, 'Mike, you don't want to be here.' And I told him, 'Tony, don't do this.'" Deculit then asked his postal buddy to call his wife and proceeded to kill himself. "He put the gun in his mouth," Witkowski said. "I said, 'Tony, you don't want to do this.' But he blew his brains out."

Tony, 37, warned co-workers during his overnight shift in a mail sorting room at Milwaukee's main post office to stay away from him because "something bad might happen." When supervisor Joan Chitwood, 55, approached Deculit to take an inventory ticket from him shortly before midnight, Tony handed her the ticket with one hand and shot her in the face with a 9mm pistol.

Chitwood had recently reprimanded Deculit after catching him sleeping on the job and denied his request to be transferred to a day shift. The other wounded person, Rodrick Patterson, 44, was treated and released for a gunshot wound to the foot. The man killed, Russell "Dan" Smith, 42. reportedly had a running feud with Tony and they would not speak to each other.



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