The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is offering $100,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the shooting death of a mail carrier in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C. late Saturday.
Police in Prince George's County say that 26-year-old Tyson Jerome Barnette, of nearby Upper Marlboro, Md. was delivering mail at approximately 7 p.m. when he was shot on Reed Street in Landover.
U.S. Postal Service spokesman George T. Maffet Jr. told the Washington Post that Barnette had been a letter carrier for six years and had been on the route he was working Saturday three times in the preceding month.
A resident of Reed Street told the Post that he was returning home and noticed Barnette, who was not his regular carrier.
When the resident called to the worker, he received no response, the report said.
The homeowner told the paper that he went into his house with his mail and heard two or three gunshots a few minutes later. When he looked outside, he said a Postal Service truck was on the street corner, but no carrier was to be seen.
Police in Prince George's County, where the shooting occurred, said that they have not yet identified any suspects, nor have they determined any possible motive.
Members of the local postal workers union said that Barnette was working on his second route that day, which accounted for the unusual lateness of the delivery. They blame late start times for routes and understaffing that they claim sometimes leaves mail undelivered until well after dark.
"We're going to have hundreds of letter carriers deliver mail in the dark tomorrow. The routes are twice as big as they were five years ago, and we are understaffed. It doesn't have to be," Local 142 union leader Kenneth Lerch told WWTG at a candlelight vigil for Barnette Sunday.
Natasha Venable, a friend of Barnette's described him as "a hard worker. He was just doing his job, and he was good at it." Venable added that she is always concerned about her safety when delivering mail after dark.
"It's not what I signed up for," she said, "but you do what you have to do."