Female Postal Worker Jennifer San Marco Goes on Mass Shooting Rampage
GOLETA, CA — On January 30, 2006, Jennifer San Marco, a former United States Postal Service employee, walked into her previous workplace in Goleta, California, and opened fire.
Carrying a 9mm semiautomatic pistol, San Marco stalked her victims and shot them in the head, stopping to reload at least once. Before her killing spree was done, San Marco had murdered five people — and then turned the gun on herself and committed suicide.
The victims were Ze Fairchild, 37; Maleka Higgins, 28; Nicola Grant, 42; Guadalupe Swartz, 52; and Dexter Shannon, 57.
A day after the mass shooting, authorities found the body of San Marco's neighbor, 54-year-old Beverly Graham, in her condominium. Later, another woman who had been wounded in the rampage, 44-year-old Charlotte Colton, passed away at the hospital. This brought the total body count to eight, including San Marco herself.
According to experts, the mass shooting may have been the worst U.S. workplace murder ever committed by a woman. The case also made headlines just because the killer was a woman, and so did not fit the usual profile for office mass murderers. A 2004 investigation by USA Today found that workplace killers were most likely to be 37-year-old single men who have been with a company for at least four years.
San Marco, 44, had a history of psychological problems. Prior to getting her job at the post office, she had previously worked as a dispatcher for the Santa Barbara Police Department. For that job, she would have needed to pass an extensive background check and a psychological evaluation.
U.S. Postal Inspector Randy DeGasperin told USA Today that San Marco worked as an entry-level clerk at the facility, but had to be removed by police in 2003 because she was "acting strangely." San Marco was put on psychological disability, but, according to her supervisors, this was "more for the safety of herself" than because she appeared to present a danger to others.
After ending her work for the post office, San Marco moved to Grants, New Mexico. There, residents noticed her bizarre behavior, which included talking to herself and stripping naked in public.
It's worth noting that despite her history of mental illness and being on psychological disability, San Marco was able to buy the gun and ammunition she used in the shooting spree from two different pawn shops. Her application did include a background check, which somehow didn't turn up any problems.
Because San Marco died at the scene, authorities were never able to question her about her motive for the killings. Some believed that the murders may have been, at least in part, racially motivated. Acquaintances said San Marco, who was white, sometimes talked to herself, spewing racist comments.
Former plant worker Jeff Tabala recalled that San Marco seemed particularly hostile to Asians while working for the Postal Service, and pointed out that all of the victims were minorities.
Additionally, San Marco distributed a publication called "The Racist Press" around Grants. The typo-filled newsletter wrote about various religions and espoused a theory linking the government to the "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz and the Ku Klux Klan.
After her death, writings were found in her house indicating that she thought she was the target of a conspiracy involving the mail-sorting plant. Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Sergeant Erik Raney said, "That establishes as good of a motive (for the killings) as we can determine at this point."