INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Fountain Square mailman was attacked by a customer over an undelivered package with suspected ties to narcotics activity, authorities said, raising new concerns about postal worker safety weeks after another USPS mail carrier was killed on the job in Indianapolis.
The assault was reported Tuesday around 4:30 p.m. in the 1500 block of Pleasant Street.
The suspect hit the mail carrier’s head and threatened to have another man kill him, according to a police report obtained by News 8.
The irate customer initiated the confrontation when he didn’t receive a package scheduled to arrive Tuesday; he believed it had been stolen, witnesses said.
Authorities could not confirm what the missing package contained but said they were tipped off about a possible link to drugs.
“I was told by the post office that drugs are still getting sent through the mail system,” said Melissa Owen, a Pleasant Street resident who witnessed the end of the confrontation.
Her conversations with Postal Service workers led her to believe officials intercepted the package but failed to inform the mail carrier it had been removed from his deliveries, she said.
The mail carrier tried to calm the customer by letting him look inside his mail bag for evidence of the package, witnesses said.
Owen suggested the confrontation and assault could have been avoided if the mail carrier had received advance warning from supervisors.
“They should be protected,” she told News 8. “These mail carriers are exposed to every weather, every person [and] every environment. This mail carrier goes above and beyond. Everybody in our neighborhood in Fountain Square loves him.”
Mary Dando, a USPS spokesperson, referred inquiries from News 8 to the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
USPIS officials did not immediately respond to emails from News 8.
Federal agents were dispatched to Pleasant Street to conduct their own investigation, according to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).
Police had not yet announced any arrests in the case Thursday night.
The mail carrier, who was not authorized by the USPS to speak with media, was spotted Thursday on his regular route.
Several residents asked if he was all right when he dropped off their mail. He smiled and said he was doing well.
A spokesperson for the USPIS responded Friday to inquiries from News 8 with an emailed statement.
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is aware of the incident and we are actively investigating the matter. While every incident is one too many, it’s important to put the number of assaults and robberies into context with the number of people USPS letter carriers interact with on a daily basis. For instance, in fiscal year 2019, USPS letter carriers delivered to more than 158 million locations. During that time frame, there were 91 reported robberies and 331 reported assaults.
Although the incidence of assaults are very low considering the number of USPS deliveries, Postal Inspectors take each one very seriously. Because protecting the Postal Service is the core mission of the U.S Postal Inspection Service, assault investigations receive a high level of response and attention.
Letter carriers are trained to observe for suspicious and/or unsafe conditions and are encouraged to report these observations to their supervisors and the Inspection Service. Postal Inspectors educate employees to avoid, when possible, situations that pose a special risk to them or the security of the mail. Additionally, Inspectors work closely with neighborhood crime prevention groups and other concerned citizens to keep an eye out for their letter carriers. After all, the community has a very real interest and concern for the security of the mail. They are directly affected when mail delivery is disrupted.”