Thomas McIlvane


Thomas McIlvane

Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Ex-Postal worker - Revenge
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: November 14, 1991
Date of birth: 1960
Victims profile: Christopher Carlisle, 33 / Mary Benincasa, 32 / Keith Cszewski, 37 / ??? / (postal supervisors)
Method of murder: Shooting (sawed-off .22-caliber rifle)
Location: Royal Oak, Michigan, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day

On November 14, 1991 in Royal Oak, Michigan, Thomas McIlvane killed five people, including himself, with a Ruger 10/22 rifle in Royal Oak's post office, after being fired from the Postal Service for "insubordination."

He had been previously suspended for getting into altercations with postal customers on his route.

Ex-Postal Worker Kills 3 and Wounds 6 in Michigan

By Doron P. Levin - The New York Times
Friday, November 15, 1991

A former postal clerk, furious that he had been dismissed from his job, walked into a regional postal center Thursday morning and opened fire with a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle, killing three workers and wounding six, before fatally wounding himself, the authorities said.

Three other workers were injured while trying to escape by jumping out windows of the two-story building during the shooting spree, which the police estimated lasted five or six minutes.

The gunman, Thomas McIlvane, 31 years old, of nearby Oak Park, then turned the weapon on himself, officials said.

He was declared dead early today at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, about two miles north of Detroit, and doctors began removing his organs for transplants, Collette Stimmell, a hospital spokeswoman, told The Associated Press.

Post Office Shootings

In recent years, post offices have been the scene of several shootings. In August 1986, a part-time letter carrier in Edmond, Okla., killed 14 people in the post office before taking his own life; in December 1988, a postal worker in New Orleans shot and wounded three people.

In August 1989, a postal worker shot his wife to death in Escondido, Calif., and then drove to the Orange Glenn post office, where he shot and killed two colleagues and wounded another before killing himself. And in October, the authorities say, a postal worker who had been let go killed a former supervisor and her fiance in Wayne, N.J., then went to the nearby Ridgewood post office, where he killed two mail handlers.

In Thursday's incident, several witnesses said the postal service center, which processes mail for four counties, became a scene of pandemonium when the shots rang out, as more than 160 frightened workers sought to barricade themselves in offices or escape through exits and windows.

Threats of Violence

Later, many workers said Mr. McIlvane had several times threatened violence if he was not reinstated.

"A lot of people thought he had a short fuse," said Edward Fink, 38, a postal clerk.

Postal officials acknowledged that they had been aware of Mr. McIlvane's threats but they said there was little they could do. "This is a mail-processing facility; it is impossible to keep it locked up tight," said Art van de Putte, a postal inspector.

Mark Mitchell, 28, who once worked with Mr. McIlvane, said they had served together in the Marines, from which he said Mr. McIlvane was discharged dishonorably after running over a car with a tank.

As for the suspect's performance as a postal carrier, Mr. Mitchell said, "He was suspended once for fighting with customers on his route." He described Mr. McIlvane as being a martial arts enthusiast with a black belt in kick-boxing who had competed on television.

After several running disputes with postal managers, Mr. McIlvane was dismissed last year for what postal officials termed "insubordination."

Known to the Police

He appealed the dismissal through a union grievance procedure, a postal official said. But he lost an arbitration hearing six days ago, which made the dismissal final, said Charles Withers, a shop steward for the letter carrier's union.

All three of the dead were postal supervisors. The police identified them as Christopher Carlisle, 33, of Rochester; Mary Benincasa, 32, of Mt. Clemens, and Keith Cszewski, 37, of Livonia.

Although no one seemed to know whether the gunman had any close family, the police said he was known to them. Oakland County officials a year ago had issued Mr. McIlvane a permit to carry a concealed weapon. The permit was revoked May 7 after the Oak Park police became concerned that the man was mentally unstable during a police investigation into complaints that he was being threatened.

The police in nearby Southfield said Mr. McIlvane recently had been acquitted of a charge of making threats over the telephone. Records show he bought a rifle three years ago and also owned a .357-caliber pistol.

The weapon Mr. McIlvane used Thursday was a Ruger semiautomatic carbine he bought at a local gun store, the police said. Investigators, who recovered four banana-style clips, two of which were empty, theorize that he fired scores of shots before the rampage ended. Don Higgerson, an agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the barrel may have been sawed off to make the weapon easy to conceal.

An Unlocked Entrance

A man dressed in a postal uniform who declined to identify himself said he saw Mr. McIlvane come into a large room where letters are sorted, start shooting, and then leave the room with a coat draped over the rifle.

Apparently, Mr. McIlvane walked in through an unlocked entrance used by employees. A woman who worked on the loading dock said she had been told a month ago by supervisors to "keep Tom McIlvane out if he showed up."

Many postal workers said they were afraid to give their names because of friction between workers and supervisors during the past two years.

Mr. Fink said a new supervisor was particularly unpopular and recently had suspended a worker for whistling, a report that was confirmed by several others. "Management pushes, pushes and pushes and doesn't know when to quit," he said. "They don't know when someone is going to break."

A co-worker, Dan Chestnutt, 37, said, "They pushed the wrong guy too far."

Mr. Mitchell said disgruntled or dismissed workers on several occasions had returned to the post office to fight or "to throw a telephone through the window." He acknowledged that he, himself, was recently acquitted on a charge of threatening a postal supervisor with a knife.

Last month, Senator Carl Levin and and Representative Sander M. Levin, both Michigan Democrats, agreed to take up complaints from customers and employees of the service center with the Postal Service.

Thomas McIlvane

On 1991 -- a month after lethal postal worker Joseph Harris rampaged through his Ridgewood post office -- another fired postal worker express mailed himself into obvlivion. When Thomas McIlvane's appeal to be reinstated as a letter carrier in suburban Detroit was denied all his former coworkers knew there would be hell to pay.

McIlvaine, a champion kick boxer with a black belt in karate, was fired a year before for cursing at his supervisor as well as threatening other clerks and fighting with customers.

Thoroughly pissed-off about losing his job, the 31-year-old ex-Marine repeatedly warned that he would make Pat Sherrill's massacre at Edmond look like "Disneyland." After Harris' rampage in Ridgewood, one of the supervisors most hated by McIlvaine got very nervous and called the post-office security division in Detroit to ask for protection. The request was denied. Jokingly, some of the other workers drew up escape plans in the event of Tommy's return.

On November 14, 1991, the day after his reinstatement was denied, the inevitable happened. Tommy Boy returned to his former post office in Royal Oak with a sawed-off Ruger .22-caliber semiautomatic hidden under his raincoat and wasted four supervisors -- among them the poor man who requested protection -- and wounded five others.

After his ten minutes of inflicting terror on his former coworkers, McIlvane ended his rampage by stamping a bullet through his head. He lingered in a coma for a day before dying. Hopefully someone at the postal security division in Detroit lost their job over this senseless tragedy.

Thomas McIlvane

"you had better not turn your head because you'll be dead!

I'm going to get you!"

You can't say he didn't give fair warning.

DIED : 16 November, 1991

Another postman gone mad. This time in Royal Oak, Michigan.

McIlvane was a former marine that was discharged because he drove a tank over a car. Obviously he needed a new occupation and where else could he go but the post office. He also had a black belt in karate, and had won professional kick boxing fights.

McIlvane was not a very popular bloke with the postal service, and his bosses particularly didn't like his prickly nature. He also had trouble getting along with those he served, constant;ly arguing with people on his mail route, and even occasionally getting into fights. This is where things went wrong for McIlvane. He got himself into one too many fights and since he had already been suspended for fighting, he was fired. But McIlvane appealed this decision but unfortunatly for all involved the decision was upheld and McIlvane was out of a job. He made one final appeal which was rejected.

The next morning McIlvane decided upon revenge as the best solution to his problems. He took a sawn-off Ruger semi-automatic carbine rifle to the post office and got even. He singled out his supervisors, shooting four dead, and during the six minute spree left six more wounded.

Once feeling a bit better about losing his job, McIlvane did as most mass murderers do - he lifted the gun to his head and blew his brains out, unluckily not doing a great job and being found alive. He died the following day in hospital anyway.

A Very Amusing Bit

McIlvane had told others about what was going to happen if he wasn't reinstated, and had even promised to make Patrick Sherrills massacre look like "Disneyland", or "a tea party", or even "a picnic". He continuously made threating calls to his supervisors (who reported them to police, who did nothing). The othe rstaff knew about McIlvanes threat and had already planned their escape routes should he turn up.

Thomas McIlvane