Man fatally shot by police after stabbing three at postal center

Wednesday, April 11th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KEARNY, N.J. (AP) _ A former postal worker who had complained to managers about a co-worker returned to his old workplace with a gun and two knives and stabbed three people before he was fatally shot by police.

The three employees at the bulk transfer center sustained minor injuries.

Michael Teklai, 27, of Newark, who had been a temporary worker at the center, quit March 5 following a personnel dispute, Hudson County authorities said.

Teklai, an Ethiopian who immigrated to the United States in 1994, was armed with a .380-caliber handgun and the knives. He entered the lobby at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday during a shift change, activating a metal detector, according to authorities and witness Mark Simth.

``Someone said, `He's got a gun,' and everybody ran,'' Simth said.

A worker saw Teklai enter with a gun and told him, ``Don't do this. Just go away,'' then ran to call 911, said Anthony Esposito, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Teklai then attacked the three, who sustained minor stab wounds and cuts.

``The whole thing lasted 15 minutes. There was a lot of yelling, people panicking, breaking down crying,'' said Licious Leverson, a postal employee who was inside the building, where about 250 people work.

Three Kearny police officers found Teklai in a locker room, stripped down to his underwear and covered in his blood, said Terrence Hull, a county prosecutor. Teklai had cut his left wrist with one of his two folding knives and was pointing his gun at the officers, Hull said.

``He approached the officers, and he was instructed to drop his weapons,'' Hull said. ``When he didn't, all three officers discharged their weapons.''

At least a dozen shots were fired. The man was pronounced dead at the scene; the injured workers were treated at hospitals and released.

Hull said he was awaiting autopsy results Wednesday to determine how many times Teklai was shot. Authorities also were investigating how Teklai got his weapons.

Teklai had a dispute with a female co-worker before he left the job. The woman was not in the building during the attack, Esposito said.

Teklai had complained to managers in late February about a conflict with the woman and was referred to the Postal Service's employee assistance program, Esposito said. He declined to describe the nature of the dispute.

Teklai had worked at several temporary assignments for the Postal Service.

``He appeared to be a very troubled individual and had some sort of mental illness,'' Esposito said. ``He seldom talked to anyone. He was very much a loner.''

The last deadly violence at a New Jersey postal center was in 1995, when a former employee walked into a Montclair post office and killed two employees and two customers. Christopher Green confessed to the killings, saying he wanted to rob the post office to pay off his debts.