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Controversy Surrounds Commemoration Of Post Office Shooting Anniversary

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Royal Oak Post Office. (Credit: Flickr/Wigwam Jones)

Royal Oak Post Office. (Credit: Flickr/Wigwam Jones)

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ROYAL OAK (WWJ) - There is controversy surrounding the upcoming 20 year anniversary of the Royal Oak Post Office shooting.

WWJ’s Laura Bonnell said postal employees want to commemorate the day — November 14 — by dedicating a tree and a plaque. On that day in 1991, 31-year-old Thomas McIlvane walked in to the Royal Oak Post Office after being dismissed from his job and opened fire with a sawed-off .22-caliber rifle, killing four employees and injuring four more before taking his own life.

Postal employees who were working at the office that day each donated $10 to cover the costs of planting a tree and placing a plaque underneath it.

Ed Moore, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service, said they are fine with the tree dedication.   

“Lives were touched in a variety of ways at the time of the incident, each having their own perspective,” Moore said.  “When visiting this living memorial, each person will be able to reflect privately in ways they find comfort in remembering those lost.” 

Charlie Withers, union steward for the National Association of Letter Carriers Local 3126, who was there the day of the shooting, said they won’t take no for an answer.

“So, we thought that this plaque basically didn’t ask for accountability. It basically incorporated everybody who had anything to do being affected by this shooting to be in that plaque. To me, just the Post Office should let it go. Let’s have the tree, let’s have the plaque,” Withers said.

“We know it’s a preventable tragedy, as the people that were here. The congressional investigation into the shooting said it was a preventable tragedy. All tragedies are preventable,” Withers continued.

Rather than debate the plaque, postal officials said the anniversary will be observed on Nov. 14 with only a tree planting. Moore said the shooting impacted more than just the union, and the tree will allow everyone to find comfort.

Withers has asked for a meeting Wednesday regarding the issue with Moore and called Senator Carl Levin’s office for help in the matter.

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