The investigation into the Monday night shooting spree at a local mail sorting facility continues, but authorities have now confirmed that six people were killed and one woman remains in critical condition at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.
At approximately 9 p.m. Monday, ex-postal service employee Jennifer Sanmarco, from New Mexico, opened fire with a 9 mm pistol at a mail sorting facility on Storke Road, killing five employees and critically wounding another before taking her own life. Crime scene investigators are still combing the scene, and officials from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept., the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating possible motives. According to the Associated Press, Postal Inspector Randy DeGasperin said Sanmarco was placed on medical leave in 2003 for psychological reasons after sheriff’s deputies removed her from the mail sorting facility due to her strange behavior.
SWAT teams discovered the bodies of the deceased victims – Ze Fairchild, 37, Dexter Shannon, 58, Nicola Grant, 42, Guadalupe Schwartz, 52, and Maleka Higgins, 28, – in and around the building on Monday night. St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Goleta hosted a prayer vigil at 7 p.m. Tuesday for the woman currently in critical condition, 44 year-old Charlotte Colton, as well as the other people affected by the incident.
Last night, approximately 70 people gathered to pray for Colton and the other victims at St. Raphael’s, where Colton is a long-time parishioner. St. Raphael’s Business Manager Wayne Rascati said several postal service employees attend the same church.
“It’s a close-knit community, so they need our prayers,” Rascati said. “We want it to be very pastoral and soothing. Everyone knew Mrs. Colton here, and her sons.”
A man who attended the vigil but declined to give his name said Colton has lived in the Santa Barbara area for most of her life and attended Dos Pueblos High School. He said she has three sons, including one suffering from cerebral palsy, and is an active member of the community.
Goleta City Manager Daniel Singer said he feels that the entire city is mourning along with those directly affected by the shooting.
“Obviously this is a tragic incident for the community, and especially for the families that were involved, and I suspect that the stories of those families and the loss that they’ll suffer is just beginning to unravel,” Singer said. “So, the community and the whole area is grieving with those that are affected.”
At a press conference yesterday, Goleta City Mayor Jonny Wallis said she thinks the incident is especially upsetting because events like it rarely occur in Goleta.
“An act of violence is always a shock to the soul, but especially in a small community such as ours, where our neighbors are our friends and where violence of any kind is extremely rare,” Wallis said.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. Spokesman Sgt. Erik Raney said he believes Sanmarco’s only family in the area is one cousin, who has not yet come forward. He said Santa Barbara County Dept. of Alcohol, Drug & Mental Health Services and the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office are currently offering assistance and grief counseling to the families of the victims, as well as to those who witnessed the shooting.
U.S. Postal Service Inspector Renee Focht said that, to her knowledge, Sanmarco is the only female to kill this many people in a postal service-related shooting. Postal service officials are currently working on ways to keep incidents like Monday’s shootings from happening in the future, Focht said.
“The postal service and the postal inspection service have been working together to increase security measures and prevent violence in the workplace, and that is an ongoing effort,” Focht said.
Singer said the way law enforcement handled the incident proves the community is still a safe place to live, especially for UCSB students.
“I think the response efforts were nothing short of outstanding,” Singer said. “They were swift, they were appropriate to the event, they were coordinated. So I think it’s an example of a really outstanding effort, which included one of the first responders – the UCSB Police Dept. I think from the student population’s perspective, that should bring a sense of comfort to people that are covered by their efforts.”
Raney said he thinks the shooting does not indicate anything about how safe Goleta is.
“I don’t think that this incident in and of itself is going to change security for the city of Goleta,” Raney said. “It is an isolated incident specific to this facility, and it did not raise any security concerns or questions for the overall city of Goleta.”
-The Associated Press contributed to this article