November 14, 1991
Royal Oak, Michigan
Tom McIlvane (31), angry over a decision not to overturn his termination, goes on a shooting spree at his former place of employment, killing 4 and himself
McIlvane had been terminated from the Royal Oak Post Office on August 8, 1990; the Associated Press at the time reported the termination was a result of time card fraud while articles from 2011 reported McIlvane was fired for making profane comments to his supervisors. Whatever the reason for his dismissal, McIlvane spent the next year appealing the termination, draining his savings in the process. He also allegedly threatened revenge on his employers if his termination was not overturned. According to one of McIlvane’s acquaintances, he had alluded to making “Edmond look like a tea party,” referring to the 1986 Edmond, Oklahoma postal shootings which claimed the lives of 15 including the shooter.
“Everybody heard rumors that this guy was going to come back,” another postal employee told reporters. “Some of us had anticipated and already planned escape routes.” Yet another former postal employee referred to McIlvane as “a waiting time bomb.”
McIlvane received a phone call the day before the shootings. He was informed the arbitrator had upheld his termination.
Shortly before 9 a.m. on November 14, McIlvane entered his former workplace while carrying a .22-caliber Ruger semi-automatic carbine, the barrel of which had been sawed off. “He didn’t say nothing. He just came in,” one worker at the post office later told reporters. “I heard ‘pop-pop’ and I knew something was going on because we knew something was gonna happen.”
McIlvane fired approximately 100 rounds during a spree which lasted an estimated 5 to 6 minutes. Three people shot died at the scene: General Manager Christopher Carlisle, who had signed McIlvane’s dismissal paperwork; Keith Ciszewski, labor relations specialist; and Mary Benincasa, compensation specialist. Rose Proos, an acting supervisor, was also fatally shot. McIlvane then fatally shot himself. Both Proos and McIlvane died in the hospital on November 15. In total, five people including McIlvane were killed, four wounded, and several more injured as they attempted to flee the shooter.
While some of McIlvane’s co-workers noted his violent tendencies, others have placed blame for the shooting on the post office’s management. Clark French, whose liver, gallbladder, and colon were struck during the shooting, told reporters, “It wasn’t an effort to get more production, it was just a matter of trying to intimidate and put people in their place. They had power and they wanted to wield it.”
“20 Year Rememberance Of Royal Oak Post Office Shootings.” CBS Detroit. November 14, 2011. Accessed: November 14, 2020. https://detroit.cbslocal.com/2011/11/14/20-year-remembrance-of-royal-oak-post-office-shootings/?_gl=11hj1ov8_ga*MmlSTW5VY1oxTzFsdWpXZklxVHVSaFlkSzZtQkZKWG9ZZ1V6bk94c3FpZFNkUEJHanZ3NnAxRVBMUnQwcEpYcw..
“Royal Oak Remembers Post Office Tragedy.” CBS Detroit. November 14, 2011. Accessed: November 14, 2020. https://detroit.cbslocal.com/2011/11/14/royal-oak-remembers-post-office-tragedy/
Davids, Judy. “20 Yeare Later: A Look Back at Royal Oak Post Office Shootings.” Patch. November 13, 2011. Accessed: November 14, 2020. https://patch.com/michigan/royaloak/a-look-back-at-the-royal-oak-postal-shootings
Swickard, Joe. “Fired postal worker who vowed revenge shoots 3 to death, wounds 5, then self.” The Charlotte Observer. November 15, 1991
“Fired worker kills 3 after vowing revenge.” The News & Observer [Raleigh, North Carolina]. November 15, 1991
“Ex-Postal Worker Kills 3 and Wounds 6 in Michigan.” The New York Times. November 15, 1991
Day, Brenda. “Man Who Shot Up Post Office Dies of Wound; Another Wounded Person Also Dies.” Associated Press. November 15, 1991 (archived: https://apnews.com/article/d60af69f128f6006b849ae7e41dc4120)
Adler, Alan L. “McIlvane ‘Didn’t Mince Words Too Much,’ Former Co-Worker Says With AM-Postal Shooting, Bjt.” Associated Press. November 14, 1991 (archived: https://apnews.com/article/86d4f389023ad194af4a405820c3d191)