An Indiana man charged with murdering a U.S. postal worker this week admitted he confronted her because his mail delivery had been suspended due to his “aggressive dog,” prosecutors said.
Tony Cushingberry-Mays, 21, was charged with second-degree murder, assaulting a federal employee, and discharging a firearm during a crime for the death of Angela Summers, a 45-year-old postal worker who was gunned down Monday afternoon during her mail delivery route in east Indianapolis, according to the United States District Court of Southern Indiana.
The mother-of-one, who had joined the U.S. Postal Service in 2018, died in the hospital.
According to federal law, killing an on-duty federal employee can be punishable by death or a life sentence. To date, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says four postal workers have been killed during workplace homicides in the last seven years.
“Angela was such a joy to be around, she was such a breath of fresh air. This is the worst thing that’s happened in my career,” Paul Toms, president of the National Association of Letters Carriers’ Indianapolis branch, told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “This is a federal crime, but more importantly this is a senseless crime that should have never happened. It breaks my heart.”
Summers, a city carrier assistant at the USPS Linwood Indianapolis Post Office, was delivering mail at about 4 p.m. Monday when she bypassed Cushingberry-Mays’ home in compliance with a suspension that had been put in place until he contained his dogs, according to court documents obtained by The Daily Beast.
An angry Cushingberry-Mays approached Summers on his neighbor's front porch, standing about 6 feet away, and repeatedly asked her for the mail.
Both Toms and a witness who spoke to WTHR said Cushingberry-Mays was allegedly upset about not getting his COVID-19 stimulus check when he confronted Summers.
Summers, however, could not deliver his mail “because she was having a problem with the dog at his residence,” the complaint said, adding that Summers had reported “several issues” with the dog, which had resulted in mail being held.
Prosecutors said the USPS Linwood Indianapolis Post Office last sent a letter to the Cushingberry-Mays residence on April 13 indicating they would have to pick up mail from the post office.
Toms said that, in compliance with USPS guidelines, Summers had reported an issue with dogs at the home. After three warning letters were sent, mail had been blocked from the home for about two weeks and “wasn’t even given to Angela that day of the incident.”
“She was just following protocol, and the Postal Service curtailed the mail. It was not her fault that she didn’t have the mail that day,” Toms said. “My understanding is that she tried to explain that the mail could be picked up at another location and an argument ensued. I heard she was called horrible, horrible names.”
The postal worker’s response triggered an argument, escalating to the point that Summers had to use pepper spray on the 21-year-old.
“Cushingberry-Mays then pulled his handgun from the right side of his waistband (no holster), pointed his handgun at the letter carrier, and fired one shot at the letter carrier,” the criminal complaint states. “He acknowledged the mace was not deadly but led to discomfort from his asthma.”
According to the complaint, Cushingberry-Mays admitted in a Tuesday interview with police that he ran away after shooting Summers, first going to his aunt’s house before hiding the gun in the garage at his mother’s. He told authorities “he did not mean to kill the letter carrier but wanted to scare her,” according to court documents.
Immediately after the shooting, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service launched an investigation and offered a $50,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest. It’s not clear if Wednesday’s arrest was made due to information obtained through the reward.
“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,” Felicia George, USPI Detroit Division Acting Inspector in Charge, said in a statement. “Anyone who threatens, assaults, or otherwise harms a postal employee fulfilling her critical mission will be apprehended and held fully accountable.”