The family of a mailman slain while on his route in Landover, Md., last year is expected to join postal carriers for a candlelight vigil in his memory this weekend.
They’re planning to gather Sunday at Reed Street and Jutewood Avenue in Landover, where 26-year-old Tyson Jerome Barnette was fatally shot while delivering mail at 7:20 p.m. Nov. 23, well after dark.
Alton Branson, a retired letter carrier organizing the vigil, said the event is aimed at urging people with any information about Barnette’s killing to come forward.
“You have a $125,000 reward out there, and the perpetrator hasn’t been apprehended yet,” Branson said. “We want to get him off the streets . . . in jail and bring closure to the Barnette family.”
Prince George’s County police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service are still investigating the circumstances surrounding Barnette’s death.
Last month, the Postal Inspection Service released a video of what authorities think is a Jeep Grand Cherokee driving away from where Barnette was found shot.
“Solving this case remains our top priority,” said Gary Barksdale, inspector in charge for the Washington division of the Postal Inspection Service. “Somebody knows something. We’re hoping they’ll do the right thing, step forward and help us bring those responsible for this unspeakable crime to justice.”
Nationwide, Barnette was the seventh mail carrier whose death has been reported as a homicide in the line of duty since 2010, according to data provided by the Postal Inspection Service in response to a records request from The Washington Post. Five mail carriers were killed in 2010 in South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and California. One was killed in Texas six months before Barnette.
The data also showed about 450 cases of assault or threats against mail carriers reported between 2010 and 2014.
Barnette’s case garnered national attention as postal carriers questioned the safety of delivering mail after sunset. The Postal Service’s inspector general recently examined late delivery in the District and Maryland suburbs, finding that the Capital District now ranks as the worst region in the nation for late mail service. Specifically, the inspector general’s report found that mail was being delivered to residents in the District and its suburbs after 5 p.m. more than two-thirds of the time as officials have trimmed the workforce and shuttered mail-sorting plants amid budget problems.
Branson said conditions have improved for workers since last year, with officials hiring more carriers and making sure to get them back to the station earlier.
But, Branson said, Sunday is about honoring Barnette and reminding people that the mailman’s case is unsolved.
County police and postal inspectors have urged anyone with information about the case or the video to call 866-411-8477 or 877-876-2455. Callers can remain anonymous.
By Lynh Bui, a Prince George’s County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.