Authorities confirmed yesterday that 44-year-old Jennifer San Marco, who opened fire at a Goleta mail-sorting facility Monday night, is responsible for the deaths of eight people, including herself.
In addition to the five victims killed by San Marco at the postal facility, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Anderson said sheriff’s deputies discovered 54-year-old Beverly Graham deceased inside her Goleta home at approximately 9 p.m. Tuesday. He said San Marco lived in Graham’s apartment complex several years ago, and evidence found at the scene suggests that San Marco deliberately targeted Graham before going to the postal facility. Charlotte Colton, 44, died at 7:30 a.m. yesterday from injuries she sustained when San Marco started shooting at the Goleta postal distribution center, Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. spokesman Sgt. Erik Raney said.
Anderson said Graham’s neighbors heard gunfire sometime between 7:15 and 8:15 p.m. Monday but did not report it to the police. The next day, Graham’s boyfriend went to visit her and found her body, Anderson said. He said San Marco might have known Graham and appeared to have sought her out intentionally.
“There was, in my opinion, an intentional act on [San Marco’s] part to get to that residence,” Anderson said.
Evidence discovered at the scene included tire tracks matching the truck San Marco drove to the postal facility, and bullet casings identical to those from the pistol San Marco used in the shootings there. Investigators also found footprints matching San Marco’s in the dirt around Graham’s back fence – which San Marco scaled before entering the house through a rear sliding door, Raney said.
Investigators are still combing Graham’s home for evidence, including information about a possible motive, Anderson said.
San Marco used a 9mm pistol purchased in San Bernardino County and registered in 1994 to someone who is not related to her. Anderson said San Marco, who shot all of her victims in the head before killing herself, never legally owned a gun, and he does not think the pistol’s legal owner is involved in the shooting.
Raney said detectives are currently investigating San Marco’s actions during the weeks leading up to the shooting, as well as how she obtained the murder weapon. Investigators found a credit card receipt in San Marco’s truck indicating that she was in the Los Angeles area at approximately 11 a.m. on the day of the shooting, Raney said.
Anderson said investigators know San Marco lived in Goleta for several years until late 2003 or early 2004, when she moved to Grants, N. M. He said he does not know why she returned to Goleta.
Raney said investigators cannot confirm a motive at this point, but he said he has heard rumors about her allegedly erratic behavior in New Mexico, or that the shootings were racially motivated. He said he does not think she had a criminal record prior to the shootings and detectives do not think racism caused the killing spree.
“Investigators are not looking at racial motivation as a lead,” Raney said.
The Sheriff Dept.’s only prior contact with San Marco was on Feb. 5, 2001, when deputies removed her from the Goleta postal distribution center, where she was working at the time, Anderson said.
“She was acting irrational and had to be removed from the facility,” Anderson said. “She was evaluated by our County Mental Health Assessment Team, and placed on involuntary 72-hour hold at Aurora Vista del Mar Hospital in Ventura County. … Obviously, there were concerns about her mental stability at that time.”
Postal Inspector Randy DeGasperin said San Marco was placed on medical leave from the postal service for psychological reasons in 2003.
Oscar Villanueva, who is in charge of the Los Angeles division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service , said the postal service will reopen the mail-sorting facility soon. He said he does not think the building’s security was to blame for the incident.
“It was a model facility before, and it continues to be a model facility today,” Villanueva said.
As the investigation into Monday’s shootings continues, members of the community are mourning the deaths of those killed in the tragedy.
Colton, who died yesterday from her injuries, was a longtime Goleta resident and an active member of St. Raphael’s Catholic Church in Goleta, said Colton’s friend Carol Fritz. She said Colton is survived by her husband and three sons.
“Her oldest boy, Connor, has cerebral palsy, and Connor always does whatever anyone else does because Charlotte is always there to help him,” Fritz said. “She was just a very positive person – very involved in [Boy Scouts] and a super, can-do person. From what I’ve been hearing, she was the same type of person at the post office. When there were things to do, Charlotte was there to do them. A very involved, volunteering person, she was always there to help and had a beautiful, positive attitude.”
Fritz, who is a teacher at St. Raphael’s, said her students knew Colton and mourned her passing in school yesterday.
“We were sharing memories of her and what they liked about her, and they wrote letters to her husband,” Fritz said. “At school it was sad, the kids were sobbing because she really died.”
Villanueva said the U.S. Postal Service is assisting those affected by the shooting.
“Right now, we’re working to ensure that they’re comfortable and have all the services necessary,” he said. “Literally, anything we can do to take care of the families, the victims’ families and the employees on an as-needed basis.”
Local businesses and banks are also coordinating efforts to help the victims’ families. According to a press release from the city of Goleta, Pascucci Restaurant in the Camino Real Marketplace is offering free meals to local Postal Service employees through Sunday.
Community West Bank, located on Hollister Avenue in Goleta, is also collecting donations for the “Goleta Post Office Memorial Fund.” Checks can be dropped off or mailed to 5827 Hollister Ave. in Goleta.
Deborah Barajas, supervisor of the downtown office of the South Coast Community Federal Credit Union, said the credit union also set up an account for the victims’ families.
“Three of our members here were victims of this tragedy, and the employees felt strongly about setting up this fund because they knew them,” Barajas said.
For information about donating to the South Coast Community Federal Credit Union account, call (805) 683-3731 or (805) 965-5408.