Man arrested in slayings of 4 at N.J. post office

March 23, 1995|By New York Times News Service

MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- A 29-year-old town laborer was arrested yesterday and charged with killing four men and wounding another man in a robbery at a post office here where he once worked. The authorities said he forced his victims, two of whom he knew, to lie face down before shooting them at close range in an act of violence that unnerved this bedroom community.

The laborer, Christopher Green, told the police after he was taken into custody at his apartment in nearby East Orange that he had stolen more than $5,000 from the small post office Tuesday afternoon because he needed money to pay his back rent, said the U.S. attorney in Newark, Faith S. Hochberg.

A phalanx of federal and local law enforcement agencies homed in on Mr. Green, a public works employee in Montclair, after the police here received a tip from an acquaintance of his that he might be involved in the killings, officials said.

Neither Ms. Hochberg nor other senior law enforcement officials could explain why Mr. Green felt that he needed to shoot the two postal workers and three customers in the small post office after he had taken the money, though some speculated that he might not have wanted to leave witnesses.

"I think that you can determine something of his mental state that after the killings he went and paid off his debts," Ms. Hochberg said at a news conference in her office in Newark.

Mr. Green had worked at post offices in Montclair as a temporary employee from July 16, 1992, until April 25, 1993, officials said.

"Christopher Green stated that he committed the robbery because he had a mountain of debt," Ms. Hochberg said. "This was not a case to our knowledge which involved a disgruntled postal worker."

Killed were two longtime postal employees, Ernest Spruill, 56, and Stanley Scott Walensky, 42; and the two customers, Robert Leslie, 38, and George Lomago, 59.

The other victim, David Grossman, 45, another customer, was listed in guarded but stable condition last night at University Hospital in Newark.

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