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Dog Owner Who Killed USPS Mail Carrier Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

ANIMAL WATCH

ANIMAL WATCH - On April 27, 2020, United States Postal mail carrier and mother, Angela Summers, 45, was murdered by a resident of a house on her east Indianapolis route where mail delivery had been suspended because of concern about a loose, vicious Chihuahua, but escalated to a verbal threat of releasing a Pit Bull to attack her.

(See also: Man, 21, Shoots and Kills U.S. Postal Service Mail Carrier After Vicious Dog Warnings Issued)

On July 6, 2022, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced that Tony Cushingberry-Mays, 21, resident at that address, was charged for the murder of United States Postal Service mail carrier Angela Summers, who was shot while delivering the mail along her regular route on April 27, 2020.

At the trial, Tony Cushingberry-May (photo above, right) of Indianapolis, Indiana, admitted to shooting USPS mail carrier Angela Summers (photo above left) in the chest at point-blank range—ending her life, allegedly because he thought she had his stimulus check and was refusing to give it to him on that day.

And, finally, on May 29, 2023, he was sentenced. 

IT STARTED WITH A “NOTICE OF VICIOUS/DANGEROUS DOG” 

It is standard procedure where dogs are posing a danger to the USPS mail carrier for residents to be issued an official warning, advising that mail delivery service will be restricted.

In this case, three USPS dog warnings had been sent to restrain an aggressive Chihuahua, but the rhetoric by one of the female residents had, according to the description of the carrier, heightened to the point that she was “feeling unsafe” because of a “threat to release a Pit Bull to attack her.”

Mail carriers, who are essential service workers, have reason to be concerned about any loose, uncontrolled or vicious dogs. A total of 5,803 USPS employees were attacked by dogs in 2019, up from 5,714 in 2018, according to USPS.

Even a small dog can inflict serious or career-ending wounds.

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.

The shooter was identified from the description by witnesses as Tony Cushingberry-Mays, 21, resident at 426 Denny Street and he was charged with murder, assault on an employee of the United States government and a firearms offense.

Cushingberry-Mays reportedly wrote in an affidavit that he was upset that the Postal Service had stopped delivering mail to his home because of “problems with a dog and that a stimulus check he was expecting was being withheld.”

USPS confirmed that three warning letters to confine the dog had been sent and delivery had not been made for two weeks to that location. However, residents had also been advised that all mail was available at the post office.

EYE-WITNESS REPORT 

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 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 she would resume mail delivery once the dog was secured, but the argument escalated to the point where Summers pepper-sprayed the man, who was about six feet away. 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, less than a mile away.)

‘I'M BEGINNING TO FEEL SERIOUSLY UNSAFE’”

In the days before her life was taken, Angela Summers had posted on her Facebook page 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.”

DIRECT THREAT BY RESIDENT ALARMED CARRIER

 

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.’”

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.

Tony Cushingberry-Mays was identified from the description, arrested and booked into the Marion County Jail in Indianapolis on April 28. After his arrest, he agreed to provide a statement to investigators, with his attorney present.

The Marion County Coroner's Office ruled that Angela Summer’s 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 a United States Postal Service mail carrier who was shot while delivering the mail along her regular route on April 27.  (See Tony Cushingberry-Ray Afficavit here.)

The charges filed in the Southern District of Indiana included: 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 the additional  federal charges.

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.

Although Angela Summers did not die specifically from a dog attack, the unsafe condition created by loose dogs and threats cost her life.

TONY CUSHINGBERRY PLEADS GUILTY 

Oh Wednesday, July 6, 2022, U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Indiana issued the following press release?

INDIANAPOLIS An Indianapolis man pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree of U.S. Postal Service letter carrier Angela Summers. 

PLEA AND SENTENCING 

Cushingberry pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He also stated that his mother, Acacia Cushingberry and a cousin both witnessed the shooting.

He is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson at a later date. Cushingberry faces a maximum of life in federal prison. 

“A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors,” the release stated. 

MAY 29, 2023 – Cushingberry sentenced to 30 years in prison for murdering Angela Summers

On June 1, 2023, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced, in a press release, “Indianapolis Man Sentenced to 30 Years in Federal Prison for Murder of a U.S. Postal Service Employee,” which stated: 

  • Tony Cushingberry, 24, of Indianapolis, Indiana, has been sentenced to 30 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to murder and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.

The court recommended FCI Greenville, a medium-security facility, for Cushingberry’s incarceration during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.

Upon his release, Cushingberry will be on supervised release for 3 years, according to the sentencing order.

The sentence included a recommendation for mental health and substance abuse treatment, along with vocational training and higher education classes.

VICTIM’S MEMORY HONORED 

The press release described the details of the murder, according to court documents and honored her memory, stating, “Angela Summers was a beloved family member and public servant, and she should be alive today.”

“She was taken from those who cared for her by the defendant’s evil decision to gun her down while she was simply doing her job,” said Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.

“Our communities should not have to live in fear of every conflict leading to gun violence.”

JUSTICE FOR MURDER? 

Sara Varner, his lead lawyer, said in a statement that the court, in handing down a sentence of 30 years, did not give sufficient weight to Mr. Cushingberry’s, “history of trauma and poverty and resulting post-traumatic stress disorder, his underdeveloped brain at the time of the shooting, his youth, the fact that he had absolutely no criminal history,” and comparable cases of second-degree murder.

Mr. Cushingberry was the first person in his family to graduate from high school and a “doting father to his infant son,” Ms. Varner said.

“Murder is always serious, but this sentence does not represent justice.”

“His remorse and deep regret for what he did was reflected in his guilty plea and statement to the court at sentencing,” she said, according to the release.

Paul Toms, president of Branch 39 of the National Association of Letter Carriers in Indianapolis, said in an interview on Thursday that the sentence was justified.

He noted that Ms. Summers, a union steward who had joined the Postal Service about 15 months before she was killed, had a teenage daughter and had not yet qualified for the union’s life insurance plan.

“The court case has come to a close, but it’s never going to be closed—not for her family or letter carriers,” Mr. Toms said. “She was part of our family.”

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former Los Angeles City employee, an animal activist and a contributor to CityWatch.)