Terror tore into the South Coast late Monday night when an
embittered and psychologically unstable former Santa Barbara
resident and one-time U.S. Postal clerk entered her former
workplace in Goleta carrying a gun. Jennifer Sanmarco, 44, shot and
killed six nightshift postal workers before taking her own life.
Shortly after 9 p.m., Sanmarco drove up to the U.S. Postal Service
Distribution Center at 400 Storke Drive and slipped undetected into
the gated employee parking lot during a shift turnover. According
to Santa Barbara Sheriff’s investigators, Sanmarco — armed with a
9-mm handgun — forcibly took a security key card from an employee
and began her assault on the massive 200,000-square-foot annex,
leaving a trail of blood and bullets in her wake. A seventh victim
was discovered late Tuesday night after authorities received a
phone call from the boyfriend of one of Sanmarco’s former
neighbors. Fifty-four-year-old Beverly Graham was found dead from a
gunshot wound to the head at her apartment on the 5200 block of
Overpass Road in Santa Barbara — just six apartment doors down from
Sanmarco’s former residence. Though the investigation is still
ongoing, authorities believe Graham’s death is directly linked to
the shootings at the post office.
Speaking at a press conference late Tuesday morning, Sheriff Jim
Anderson offered his condolences to families of the victims but
remained tight-lipped on the details of the shootings and the
ongoing investigation. According to Anderson, officers arrived on
the scene and immediately discovered two victims lying dead in the
employee parking area. Continuing toward the main entrance, the
officers found a third victim fatally shot just outside the annex
doors and a fourth — critically wounded but still alive — lying
just inside. During the ensuing sweep of the building — evacuating
some 90 on-duty postal workers in the process — authorities
discovered two more victims, both dead, and Sanmarco, killed by an
apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Officers believed Sanmarco
reloaded her weapon at least once during the spree.

Most recently a resident of Grants, New Mexico, Sanmarco — who
had a brief stint as dispatcher for the Santa Barbara Police
Department in 1994 — worked in Goleta as a part-time mail clerk on
the 9 p.m.-5 a.m. overnight shift for six-plus years before being
placed on psychological leave in 2003. Authorities noted that
several of Sanmarco’s former coworkers reported recognizing her
during the Monday night rampage; according to Postal Inspector
Randy DeGasperin, “Chances are she knew her victims, too.”

Sanmarco was placed on involuntary medical leave from the Postal
Service in June 2003 after her “strange behavior” resulted in her
being removed from the building’s property by Sheriff’s Department
officers. Though she never threatened anyone or became violent
during the ’03 incident, authorities say several coworkers believed
she was at risk to hurt herself. Sanmarco relocated to New Mexico
soon after, where she became known to local authorities after a
reported incident of nudist behavior at a gas station. She achieved
further notoriety around Grants by applying for a business license
to start a publication called the Racist Press.

Sanmarco’s victims were identified Tuesday as Santa Barbara
residents Ze Fairchild, 37, and Maleka Higgins, 28; Dexter Shannon,
57, of Oxnard; and Lompoc residents Nicola Grant, 42, and Guadalupe
Swartz, 53. And early Wednesday morning, the sixth victim —
44-year-old Charlotte Colton of Santa Barbara — was pronounced dead
at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
Speaking in the wake of the city’s first-ever murder, Goleta Mayor
Jonny Wallis observed, “An act of violence is always a shock to the
soul but especially so in a small community as ours. A day at the
office should never end in death.” She went on to assure the
families of those killed in the shooting spree, “The City of Goleta
is ready to help in any way it can.”


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