MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A U.S. Postal Service letter carrier who shot a manager and a supervisor before killing himself inside a Tennessee postal facility was not a violent person and was being bullied at work by his superiors, his mother said Thursday.
Tracey Haley told The Associated Press that her 28-year-old son, Johntra Haley, was the person who shot two postal service co-workers Tuesday at a sorting facility in Memphis.
She said her son had called her and told her he was being bullied by his bosses.
“He was a churchgoing person. It’s just the people at the job was bullying him,” she said. “My son went to that job faithfully every day, worked long hours … comes home stressed because they’re talking to him any kind of way.”
Haley spoke to an AP journalist at the apartment complex where her son lived as postal inspectors took the man’s sister aside for questioning. The inspectors declined comment.
She said she feels sorry for the families of the victims and apologized to them.
Station manager James Wilson Jr. and customer service supervisor Demetria Dortch were killed, according to Shri Green, an area vice president with the National Association of Postal Supervisors.
In a news release Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said Haley shot Wilson and Dortch with a gun he bought in 2017, then killed himself. Haley was hired in July of this year and there were no reports or complaints filed against him with the postal inspection service.
Wilson was 47 years old and had been with the postal service since 2001, officials said. Dortch, 37, had been with the postal service since 2015.
Law enforcement authorities did not respond to inquiries about the bullying accusations. The Associated Press has been unable to reach the victims' families for their comment.
Friends of Dortch have posted messages on social media calling her a good friend and great supervisor. Wilson was described in local media as "a humble soul, one of the nicest supervising managers you could ever wish there was,” by his cousin, postal worker Roxanne Rogers.
Green told the AP on Wednesday that she did not know the motive, but “obviously, something was going on, in the carrier’s mind.” She said it was Haley's second day working at the sorting facility and it was not his normal assignment.
“It’s a sign of the times,” Green said, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to more work absences and the hiring of new employees whose need for training causes more stress. “The postal service altogether, they’re working long hours, six or seven days a week. It’s just stressful.”
In another interview Thursday, Green said she could not comment on the specific bullying accusations and could not speak for the postal service, where she worked for 38 years before retiring. But she noted that the postal service has a policy against workplace bullying and does not condone it.
Meanwhile, Tracey Haley said Johntra had a son and enjoyed spending time with him, playing video games at home and going out with his girlfriend. Johntra Haley was expecting another child, she said.
Tracey Haley said she buried her deceased husband this year and now has to bury her son.
“I'm not doing good at all,” she said. “It's ridiculous. These jobs need to learn to train people to give people respect when you're working for them.”