ANIMAL WATCH-During tensions over COVID-19, a conflict which began over USPS dog warnings about an aggressive Chihuahua, heightened to a threat of "turning a Pit Bull loose,"
and ended with Tony Cushingberry-Mays, 21, (photo above, right) of Indianapolis, Indiana, shooting USPS mail carrier Angela Summers (photo above left) in the chest at point-blank range -- ending her life.
In 2018, 5,714 Postal Service employees were victimized by attacking dogs, and many were seriously hurt, so mail carriers, who are essential service workers, have reason to be concerned about any threats -- from Chi's to Pit Bulls.
Los Angeles residents may recall that the city (under the jurisdiction of Los Angeles Animal Services GM Brenda Barnette) has held the alarming record of being #2 in USPS dog bites each year since 2016, when it ranked #1.
SHOOTER SAID HE ‘ONLY MEANT TO SCARE HER’
Angela Summers, 45, was shot in the chest just before 4 p.m. on April 27 on North Denny Street in east Indianapolis, according to an affidavit by U.S. Postal Service Inspector Joseph J. De St Jean.
Immediately after the shooting, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service launched an investigation and offered a $50,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest.
The shooter was identified from the description by witnesses as Tony Cushingberry-Mays, 21, resident at 426 Denny Street was charged with murder, assault on an employee of the United States government and a firearms offense.
Cushingberry-Mays was upset that the Postal Service had stopped delivering mail to his home because of problems with a dog, the affidavit said.
USPS confirmed that three warning letters had been sent and delivery had not been made for two weeks to that location.
According to WTHR-TV, a neighbor said in an eye-witness report that "Summers was approached by a man (later identified as Tony Cushingberry-Mays) outside the house on Denny Street on the day she was killed, and stated that the man was upset that he had not received his federal stimulus check.
However, the affidavit which Cushingberry-Mays later voluntarily wrote "does not mention the stimulus check," Heavy.com points out, "Cushingberry-Mays told investigators he was asking Summers to deliver his mail."
The witness stated that Summers explained that she would resume delivering his mail once the dog was secured, but the argument escalated to the point where Summers pepper-sprayed the man, who was about six feet away, and he then pulled out a gun and shot her."
According to the court affidavit containing his personal statement, the shooter said that "he didn't want to kill her, just scare her."
In fact, Summers reportedly did not have the mail he requested, which was available for pick up at the Linwood station. (Dogsbite.org states that the Linwood post office is less than one mile away.)
The National Association of Letter Carriers Indianapolis branch President stated that Summers joined the United States Postal Service during the summer of 2018 and that she was well liked and had a smile for everyone she encountered.
Her neighbor told FOX59, “She loved people. She loved the people on her route. She worried about the older people on her route during this time. She always carried treats and she would give the dogs treats on her route.”
‘I'M BEGINNING TO FEEL SERIOUSLY UNSAFE’
In the days before her life was taken, Angela Summers had posted on social media about the Chihuahua at an address on Denny Street, "This dog is a nasty devil that I've actually had to spray – twice. . .The people just let it run. Three times they've gotten a dog warning card in their mailbox with their address on it."
She wrote, "The kids have been out with it and twice I've made them gather it and take it inside." She recounted other instances with the dog.
She also said that a woman at the address had threatened her. In one instance, she posted, "Then she proceeds to yell "bitch this and kick you ass bitch". . .I kept walking. I get to the other side of this house's yard and am putting mail in box at the next house and she's yelling that if I talk to these kids again she's "going to set a pit bull loose on my white bitch ass."
‘Two clear threats now, I'm beginning to feel seriously unsafe. . .’
According to Dogsbite.org, "Detectives learned through interviews that Angela Summers had a confrontation with a black male on the porch located at 422 North Denny Street, Indianapolis, IN 46201.
A witness described the male suspect. . .The witness added that the confrontation escalated, and the mail carrier pepper sprayed the male. As a result, the male shot her, striking her once in the chest. The witness heard the occupants standing on the front porch of 426 North Denny Street, Indianapolis, IN 46201, repeatedly screaming, “Tony, no.” The witness stated the male fled in the direction of 426 North Denny Street, Indianapolis, IN 46201."
Tony Cushingberry-Mays was identified from the description, arrested and booked into the Marion County Jail in Indianapolis on April 28. After his arrest, Tony Cushingberry-Mays agreed to provide a statement to investigators, with his attorney present.
The Marion County Coroner's Office ruled her death was a homicide. "Killing an on-duty federal employee can be punishable by death or a life sentence."
Tony Cushingberry-Mays, 21, has been charged for the murder of United States Postal Service mail carrier Angela Summers. Summers was shot while delivering the mail along her regular route on April 27 in Indianapolis.
The charges, filed in the Southern District of Indiana, include: Murder in the second degree; Assaulting, Resisting or Impeding Certain Officers or Employees; Discharging a Firearm during and in Relation to a Crime of Violence. He is also facing federal charges.
SHE ‘TALKED ABOUT HER DAUGHTER,’ STRUGGLED TO BREATHE
A teenage girl who lived at the home at 422 Denny Street is reportedly the person who called 911 after Summers was shot. Alondra Salazar told the Indy Star she was taking a nap on the couch when she a loud bang.
Salazar said she first looked through the peephole before opening the front door and she saw Summers bleeding on the front porch from a gunshot wound to the chest. Her canister of pepper spray, a bottle of hand sanitizer and other mail items were scattered near her.
After calling 911, Salazar said she held Summers’ hand as they waited for the ambulance. She said Summers "talked about her daughter but was struggling to breathe."
According to the criminal complaint, Summers was transported to Eskenazi Hospital in critical condition. She was pronounced dead at 5:31 p.m., about 90 minutes after she was shot.
NATIONAL DOG-BITE AWARENESS WEEK by the U.S. Postal Service was postponed this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be observed from June 14-20. Statistics for dog bites/attacks on Postal employees across the United States during 2019 will be revealed.
Although Angela Summers did not die specifically from a dog attack, the unsafe condition created by loose dogs and threats cost her life. Her teenage daughter will celebrate Mother's Day without her.
The efforts to the Postal Service (and other employers) to alert dog owners to the dangers of not controlling dogs of any size or breed is serious. In this case, it has cost two lives: Angela Summers and also the killer, 21-year-old Tony Cushingberry-Mays, who could spend the rest of his life in a federal prison. Dogsbite.org reminds us, " Cushingberry-Mays literally threw his entire life way by killing Summers in cold blood over a dispute that began with a dog."
HEROISM WE CAN'T FORGET - 2019 ATTACK ON POSTAL CARRIER (VIDEO) Oneil Colley, a Jamaican-American rapper, saved Detroit mail carrier Todd Bridges, 52, from a pit bull last year. The owner explained that "Boss Hog" had accidentally squeezed out the door when his nephew left the house. Bridges said he still relives the experience and the terror. He used his entire canister of dog spray and it didn't faze the pit bull. Colley was featured at National Pit Bull Victim Awareness Day observance event and received a USPS Hero Award.)
(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.