Jennifer San Marco

Jennifer San Marco

The Goleta Postal Murders

Mass Murderer Had No Problem Getting a Gun

Thursday, January 31, 2013
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JENNIFER GOT HER GUN: They called Jennifer San Marco “the crazy lady.” But she still got an official okay to buy the gun she used to kill six people at the Goleta mail-handling facility seven years ago this week, along with a former neighbor.

She was loony but not crazy enough to be denied the right to pay $325 for a 15-round, 9 mm Smith & Wesson model 915 handgun about six months before the murderous rampage.

San Marco, 44, was obsessed with racial hatred and so paranoid that she thought her former workmates were conspiring against her. Writings found back at her home in New Mexico indicated that she felt they were out to get her.

Barney Brantingham

True, San Marco had been hauled out of the Goleta postal facility in 2003 for bizarre behavior, trundled out on a mail cart by sheriff’s deputies after they dragged her out from under a sorting machine. She spent three days on an involuntary hold in a Ventura psychiatric facility and was then released. It’s not known whether she received any therapy there or anywhere else.

Placed on retirement disability and driving across country to East Coast relatives, she got stuck in Milan, N.M., where her car broke down. There she became known as a nutcase, harassing clerks and putting out a jumble of rantings called The Racist Press. Once, she apparently doffed some or all of her clothes at a service station. (She was clothed when cops arrived. They gave her a warning.)

But when she went to Ace Pawn & Antiques in Grants, N.M., to buy a handgun in August 2005, she cleared the required background check with flying colors. New Mexico is known for its weak gun laws, just as California is relatively strict.

San Marco ranted against minorities but was never violent, never arrested or committed to a booby hatch. Two months before San Marco’s rampage, a mental health clinic manager noticed her kneeling before her car in a post office parking lot in nearby Grants, N.M., talking to herself and under the delusion that her brother and sister were there.

The woman said she called police, hoping it would lead to San Marco getting a mental evaluation. Police have no record of the call and apparently nothing came of it. An opportunity was missed.

Because the pawn shop background check showed that she had never been officially adjudicated as “mentally defective,” she passed and got the gun.

Meanwhile, San Marco’s simmering rage was boiling over. First to die was Beverly Graham, 54, her former neighbor in Goleta. Her condominium neighbors heard what sounded like gunshots sometime after 7 p.m. on January 30, 2006.

Years earlier, Graham had complained about San Marco’s loud singing. This was her revenge. At around 9 p.m., she drove into the Goleta postal facility’s parking lot at 400 Storke Road, getting through the gate by following an employee’s car. (Security has improved since then.) In the lot, she took another worker’s key card at gunpoint.

He lived because he wasn’t her target. Minority people were. On that night of terror, most of the 80 employees survived the onslaught; six unlucky ones died, all people of color. Arriving officers found two bodies in the employee parking area and one just outside the door. A fourth worker was found just inside, critically wounded.

One story that emerged is that as she pointed the gun at one woman, she apparently ran out of bullets and needed to reload. That gave the intended victim, along with other panicked workers, time to flee. San Marco killed two more workers before turning the gun on herself.

Dead at the scene were Ze Fairchild, 37, and Maleka Brinley-Higgins Pineda, 28, of Santa Barbara. Pineda was just back from maternity leave. Also Dexter Shannon, 57, of Oxnard, and Lompoc residents Nicola Grant, 42, and Guadalupe Swartz, 53. Charlotte Colton, 44, mother of three, of Santa Barbara, was pronounced dead at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.

Since then, six trees have been planted in memory of the six and a plaque bearing their names placed in an unobtrusive location. New hires have come and gone, and memories have faded. But many remember and honor their former workmates and friends.

California has a 10-day waiting period and background check. But due to a lack of national gun control laws, a resident can buy a weapon at a gun show in Arizona or Nevada, load it up, and drive home to California.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

What happened was so very shocking and sad. Our hearts go out to the people who were involved and affected.

The present Gun Laws are coming too late for this particular incident, and many thousands since. But MAYBE they will help in the future. MAYBE there will be a few-less lives wasted; a few-less lives shattered. MAYBE, and HOPEFULLY.

It is obvious that there were "opportunities missed" with this lady. I'm an advocate for "sensible" GUN CONTROL measures, because there are just too many ways to slip through the flaky Mental Health System (as it is).

One pissed-off or deranged person has the capacity to do a whole lot of harm with a weapon designed to easily kill - many, many times.

itsacrockof (anonymous profile)
January 31, 2013 at 6:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How strange that I flashbacked on this today. The killer used to come into an antiques collective I worked at, customers would comment on her attitude towards THEM (!) and I was always happy to send her on her way as quickly as possible. She just kinda reeked evil. If there ever had been an on the spot mental health evil there is no way she would've been allowed weaponry.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
January 31, 2013 at 7:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"California has a 10-day waiting period and background check. But due to a lack of national gun control laws, a resident can buy a weapon at a gun show in Arizona or Nevada, load it up, and drive home to California."

The 1968 Gun Control Act forbids the above action.

It is a FELONY for a California Resident to go to Arizona or Nevada and buy a gun without the gun being sent to a CA-FFL for the CA 10 day waiting period and background check.

"A former postal worker who had been put on medical leave for psychological problems shot five people to death at a huge mail-processing center and then killed herself in what was believed to be the nation’s deadliest workplace shooting ever carried out by a woman."

I would argue that if the postal worker was put on Medical Leave for Psychological Problems that the Postal Service had a responsibility to alert the proper California Mental Health Authorities which did not happen and could have prevented the killing because California would have uploaded the info to NICS.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 2:27 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I agree with HGWMV. Someone like San Marco or Lanza isn't going to have gang affiliations, even criminal gangs have their standards.
In addition criminal gangs already have a black market in weapons because they don't want their often stolen weapons tracked down, to the point they sand off serial numbers ect.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 3:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@ Ken_Volok
Agree completely. Do you think the Obama Administration's Gun Control proposals will effectively address at least SOME of the aspects of unbalanced people getting weapons?

I hate to say it, but the old bumper sticker.... "When Guns are Outlawed, only Outlaws will have Guns" is for the most part true.

"GUNS". It is DEFINITELY a huge dilemma. My assessment of the whole situation is to 'start packing', and hope the day never comes when I will be forced to kill somebody who's off their pills. Or for that matter, that I might start getting soft and start blasting my neighbors, etc.

itsacrockof (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 7:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hopefully it will help, at least close second market loopholes. This is my last comment on this thread because it sickens me to see that woman's face.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 8:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow, yet another completely useless and uninformed article about gun violence. It's the gun's fault according to Barney...yet again. Barney seems to write a lot about guns, yet knows absolutely nothing about them or our CA laws. Maybe a little more research would be in order. This lady didn't break any laws by buying a gun. The fact that she chose to use a gun in the course of multiple felonies is the problem. Our awful mental health state is a problem. Oh and thanks for the tip about the illegally buying guns in another state and walking it across state lines deal Barney. For the people who didn't know how to do that and were sitting at home wondering " can I get me a ghat...hmm...this nice guy at the Indi has a great idea", aaaannnd now they will thanks to Barney...and yes it is illegal to do it. Kinda like when Obama and Holder did the Gun Walking to Mexico cartels which resulted in deaths of untold amount of innocent people. Barney, you really should stick to writing/complaining about what you know.

vonG (anonymous profile)
February 1, 2013 at 11:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So when we pass all the federal laws people say we need to pass, then I can assume no illegal guns will be smuggled into the U.S., right?...sort of like the way no illegal drugs ever enter the U.S.?

Those who side with Barney would have more credibility if they sat down and discussed why there are so many crazy angry people shooting random victims, but perhaps they'd have to admit that their long-held rebellious assumptions about social engineering have backfired.

Six-shooters have always been easily available, yet I don't remember as a kid hearing about people going into schools and other places and randomly shooting people at the rate they are today and I find it hard to believe such stories would not have made the news. Once again, the evidence points toward an increasingly sick culture.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 2, 2013 at 4:49 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Since the author did bother, I looked up the law on Involuntary Holds.

This link shows the current law in place.

The Murderess was put on a (5150) 72 hour involuntary hold.

In California that means a mandatory loss of firearms for 5 years in California, the loss can be appealed but not a National Loss, so no entry into the NICS system.

In California a (5250) additional 14 days involuntary hold, means a loss of firearms for life, no appeal available and meets the threshold to place the individual in the NICS system.

The question I would ask, why was this person not put on a (5250) hold and who was responsible for not doing it. The (5250) hold would have prevented the legal purchase of firearms anywhere in the United States including New Mexico.

I am sure the Mental Health System is short beds and resources and do the best they can but instead of putting more burdens of the law abiding citizen, it is high time Politicians allocate more dollars for Mental Health.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
February 2, 2013 at 5:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The answer to “too many shootings” is definitely MORE Guns! When everybody has guns, they can kill one another off. Soon, the National Death Rate will drop exponentially - proving Wayne LaPierre and the Holy NRA's Leadership are RIGHT for America! Hey Wayne, 20 killed at once was just not enough.... exactly how many dead children is it going to take to get this all rolling, Bro?
Call Me Crazy.

itsacrockof (anonymous profile)
February 2, 2013 at 11:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A lot of money we spend on incarceration would be better spent on mental health.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 12:41 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@itsacrockof: While I respect your sincerity, invoking children is not needed to make your point. Whether it's children or adults who get dead, they're equally innocent and hearts are broken.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 1:53 a.m. (Suggest removal)


"A lot of money we spend on incarceration would be better spent on mental health."

I would argue more monies spent on Mental Health would go a long way perventing gun crime, homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence and a whole laundry list of societies ills.

Myself having been surrounded by Mental Illness my entire life, I know the gapping holes in the Mental Health System.

In addition to my Mother, my Uncle suffered in silence for more than 50 years until he drank himself to death. He was a teenage nerd drafted into the military in 1943. They took a 5'5" coke bottle rimmed nerd, made him a Sargent and placed him safely in a Refrigeration Company, DDay +12 or 14. Then the Battle of the Bulge and he was reassigned to the front, they call is PTSD now, he managed to graduate college but then had a mental breakdown. His life was ruined, he never married or had any kind of life. In 1995 when my Father and I managed to get him into UCLA, we found a Crackpot Shrink had been writing scrips for all kinds of dangerous/ powerful antidepressants and mind altering drugs that my uncle had been double and triple dosing with copious amounts of vodka, alcohol is a depressant. The Crackpot Shrink had not seen the patient for almost 3 years but kept on writing scrips for massive amounts of drugs.

My uncle's brain was fried. Thankfully he died two years latter. He was Proud of his Service to his Country, never complained or spoke ill of his Service, this illustrates how poor the current state of the Nations Mental Health System is but it is easier to ban this or that or incarcerate, than deal with the problem.

20% of the population suffers from basic depression to full blown insanity. 20% of the population has/is being disenfranchised.

Even Capt. Mark Kelly commented today on why Pima College who kicked his wife's shooter out of school did not followup with the AZ Mental Health System.

howgreenwasmyvalley (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 11:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

@ billclausen
I can accept that. It all is senseless and it sucks.

itsacrockof (anonymous profile)
February 3, 2013 at 8:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Federal Law:

Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(d), it is unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution.”

Why did she clear the background check?

Adonis_Tate (anonymous profile)
February 8, 2013 at 2:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I just miss my friends that I grew up with at The Goleta Post Office. I used to go to Santa Barbara Blues shows with Dexter at La Casa de la Raza. Charlotte had two disabled kids she took care of and still had time to organize all our parties/picnics. All missed.

leosbluesland (anonymous profile)
January 30, 2015 at 10:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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