The US Postal Inspection Service on Saturday announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the Friday shooting of a letter carrier and attempted theft of a postal truck on a residential Dorchester street.
At the same time, Boston police released dramatic new details in the case.
A masked man who appeared to be in his 20s hit the letter carrier on the head, stripped him of his uniform, and shot him in his right hand or wrist, leaving him seriously injured, during a botched attempt to steal the truck, police said on the department’s website.
In announcing the unusually large reward, Postal Inspection Service officials indicated that two men took part in the attempted robbery, but Boston police were not immediately able to confirm the presence of a second suspect.
Officers responded at 6:07 p.m. Friday to a report of a man shot outside 74 Bailey St. and found the letter carrier, who said a man about 5-foot-9 in a hooded black jacket and black mask had jumped onto his truck and demanded “the draw,” police said.
The carrier responded, “What draw?” and the man hit him in the forehead with a gun, then forced him to remove his uniform, police said.
As the gunman then tried to drive the mail truck away, the carrier opened its back door and jumped out, and then ran down Bailey Street toward Dorchester Avenue, police said.
Some details remained unclear Saturday. Police and postal inspectors were unable to say at what point the gunman shot the letter carrier.
Bernadette Lundbohm, an inspector with the Postal Inspection Service’s Boston Division, said the demand for “the draw” was mysterious.
“Postal inspectors were bewildered as to what they were looking for,” Lundbohm said of the suspects, “because these trucks do not carry money.”
She said violent attacks on postal workers are relatively rare. She said postal inspectors were working with Boston police to ensure employee safety, and spent Saturday reminding workers of security protocols and offering safety tips.
Police found the mail truck in a snowbank on Clermont Street, adjacent to Bailey Street, they said. Police said the gunman drove away in a U-Haul rental van that was found at a Sunoco station at Gallivan Boulevard and Washington Street, less thana half-mile away.
The letter carrier was taken to Boston Medical Center with serious injuries but was expected to survive, police said.
Police and postal inspectors continued their investigation Saturday morning, when several cruisers and a patrol wagon lined Bailey Street, a one-way lane of mostly older homes, and investigators went door to door in pairs, interviewing residents.
Bailey Street resident Marley Williams, 30, said he had never seen crime on the street, but a neighbor warned him that thieves sometimes hide in the shadows and jump out to rob pedestrians. The neighbor told Williams that a man with a knife had approached him on Bailey Street one night.
“He said be careful,” Williams said. “I work late nights. I don’t want to get knifed or knocked out.”
Gina Martin, 44, said she recently moved to Bailey Street from Holworthy Street, a dangerous section of Roxbury known as “H Block.”
“I was told that it was better here,” she said. “You move to get away from it, but there ain’t no difference.”
In Fields Corner, about a mile and a half away, letter carrier Dzung Ngo, 53, said he considers Bailey Street to be dangerous. “The area it happened last night was unsafe area, I know that,” he said.
Ngo, a letter carrier for nearly 16 years, said he had never been confronted by thieves, but they have tried to distract him and get access to packages. Others, he said, have pretended to be leaving a residence where he was delivering a package so that he would hand it over to them.
He said the holiday season is dangerous for postal workers because skies darken early just as they become inundated with extra packages, delivering gifts that are tempting to thieves.
The Postal Inspection Service asks anyone with information to call 877-876-2455.