letter: Residents were notified last week of the suspension in service. Matthew Hall

Scores of Santa Monica residents are being asked to walk or drive to the Post Office on 7th Street to pick up their mail after delivery service was suspended on the 1300 block of 14th Street.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” but a violent suspect wielding a broom has proven too large an impediment for local mail carriers, who announced in a letter dated April 7 that the USPS would suspend letter delivery for customers living on 14th Street between Arizona and Santa Monica Boulevard.

“This is unfortunate, but please be advised that the Postal Service does not enter into decisions to suspend service lightly. Multiple carriers have been subjected to assaults and threats of assault from an individual who has not been located or apprehended,” according to the letter, which was taped to mailboxes around the neighborhood and shared by local residents on social media. “The safety of our employees and of the mail they deliver to you is our highest concern. Until we can ensure the safety of both, delivery services will remain suspended.”

When reached for comment, the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) indicated it had not been contacted by the Postal Service prior to the letters being posted.

A representative for the federal U.S. Postal Inspection Service who was reached on Monday did not appear familiar with the incident, which gained media traction on Monday resulting in a slew of local and regional news alerts about the suspended service.

The April 7 USPS letter included two phone numbers where concerned residents were directed to address questions; neither number was answered when the Daily Press called on Monday.

That was a similar experience to what the SMPD said happened when officers tried to call about the incident after they were informed of the suspended service via a social media link to a photo of the letter posted by a resident.

“The letter was brought to our attention late Saturday when it was posted on Twitter,” SMPD spokesperson Lieutenant Erika R. Aklufi wrote in an email to the Daily Press. “Our Department has been asked several times to confirm the information in the letter and this is our response at this time. The USPS issued the letter and as far as we know did not contact our department before sending it. I tried calling the two phone numbers on the letter– one went unanswered, the other had a voicemail box that is full.”

Aklufi went on to write that when the SMPD looked into the alleged crimes, an officer familiar with the location helped track down a crime report for an assault with a deadly weapon (broomstick) incident against as USPS mail carrier on Jan. 19, 2022, which was “committed by a subject who lived in the area and is known to our officers and also to the mail carrier he attacked.”

“The victim sustained a minor injury to his arm and did not require medical attention,” Aklufi continued. “The officers who took the report contacted the United States Postal Inspection Service on the day of the incident to provide information for the incident should they wish to follow up. We do not know if the USPS did so.”

Some local reports speculated that the alleged perpetrator was unhoused, but Aklufi put those rumors to rest: “The subject is not homeless, nor is he on the lamb (sic). He lives on 14th Street.  We have had him in custody several times for crimes not related to the postal service; in fact, he was arrested late last week for an unrelated vandalism. He was released with a citation per the LA County bail instructions. As I mentioned, the January assault case was closed after the victim decided not to pursue prosecution.”

There was no word as to when service may resume.