As Whittier locals start getting mail again, the U.S. Postal Service can’t account for what went wrong

Service interruptions followed an attack on a mail carrier but were only supposed to last one day.

U.S. Postal Service letter carrier Gabriel Zomora on his route near East Colfax. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

U.S. Postal Service letter carrier Gabriel Zomora on his route near East Colfax. (Andrew Kenney/Denverite)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Denverites who live in Whittier can expect mail service to return to normal following an attack on a postal worker that led to delays, but the U.S. Postal Service cannot say why mail went undelivered for so long after the incident.

USPS spokesperson James Boxrud told Denverite this week that postal workers were taking steps to ensure Whittier locals were receiving “the service they expect and deserve.” The delays were originally believed to stem from an attack on a mail carrier on Jan. 6, after which USPS brought all of its carriers in the area back to the station.

Boxrud said delivery was supposed to resume the next day. Yet some residents in the area said they had not received any mail for an entire week. The postal service spokesman could not say why.

“It’s not normal,” Boxrud said.

Boxrud apologized for the “handful of deliveries” that went undelivered after the attack. He said recent hires who worked along that route may have also contributed to delays, as well as staffers who may have taken vacation time after the holidays.

“We apologize to those customers in the Whittier neighborhood who have experienced issues with their mail service,” Boxrud said in a statement. “It’s not indicative of the quality service we typically provide each day to the vast majority of customers.”

Denver Postmaster Lora McLucas was aware of the delivery problems and told Boxrud that “she has personally seen to the allocating of staff and equipment to ensure regular and timely delivery.”

USPS is not facing any staffing shortage, Boxrud said.

Several residents said in Facebook groups that they began receiving mail this week. Boxrud learned people weren’t getting mail from media reports, not through the agency’s channels.

The mail carrier who was attacked was not a recent hire, Boxrud said, and went back to work the next day.

The USPS law enforcement arm, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, is investigating the incident. Boxrud said the person or people found responsible for the attack could face federal charges.

Adam Cayton-Holland doesn’t live in Whittier (he lives in nearby City Park West ) but said he noticed there wasn’t any mail starting last Monday. By Thursday, he figured something weird was happening because he still hadn’t gotten any mail. He finally got mail on Monday — “Miracle upon miracle!” he said over text — though he said Tuesday he was still missing stuff he was expecting, including a replacement driver’s license.

He didn’t learn the cause of the issues until he visited a USPS Annex last week and was told a mail carrier had been attacked. He hoped the mail carrier was okay but said he felt USPS should have had a better plan in place for this kind of situation.

“What’s frustrating is there has been nobody telling us anything, not even a slip in the mailbox saying ‘Hey, there’s a change of carrier,'” Cayton-Holland said.

Attacks on mail carriers are relatively rare, Boxrud said, adding that this was only the second instance of a carrier being attacked in the last six months in Colorado or Wyoming. He cautioned people against not messing with carriers because of the Inspection Service, which he said “backs up” the USPS employees. He said USPS now has a system in place to prevent this from happening again.

Boxrud said people who have mail they still haven’t received should contact the USPS at 1-800-ASK-USPS or visiting their website at usps.com/help.

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