For the 19th year since the terrible and tragic events at the Fairfield Street post office satellite in Watchung Plaza, a wreath will be laid and words will be spoken in remembrance of the five men shot, one who survived two gunshots to the head. The 5 PM ceremony is open to the public and will take place at the southern end of Watchung Plaza, near the former location of the Fairfield Street branch.
The ten year anniversary drew dozens of mail trucks and scores of attendees to Watchung Plaza for the memorial service. In more recent years, and with the passage of time, the ceremonies have been more intimate but deeply moving for those in attendance.
The Montclair post office shooting occurred during a time when “going postal” had become a harsh catchphrase in the United States, the Fairfield Street shooting shook the relatively tranquil township where some residents felt so safe they didn’t bother to lock their cars or windows.
Francesca Elms, who moved to Montclair from NYC in 1991, remembers how the shooting affected her sense of safety, “I wanted to raise my children in safety. Montclair seemed like the perfect choice — an interesting and diverse community with good schools and many cultural advantages we didn’t expect in a suburb. The shocking and senseless Post Office shooting on March 21st, 1995, brought home to me in the starkest possible way that no place in America was safe for my family and for all of its citizens, with its easy access to way too many firearms.” Elms’ response was to become the co-chair of the North Jersey Ceasefire Group, now under BlueWaveNJ.
Ernest Spruill and Scott Walensky, both postal employees, and Robert Leslie and George Lamoga, local residents, were killed when a former temporary worker shot them execution style during the post office robbery. David Grossman, also a local resident, survived the tragic ordeal with two gunshots to his head.
Longtime Montclair residents remember the day vividly, and mourn the loss of friends and postal workers who were truly part of the community family. Baristanet commenter Mellonbrush said about Scott Walensky,
My favorite Scotty memory was how happy he was to win a Super Bowl pool at a party a mutual friend used to throw every year. The pot was only about $50, but to him it may as well have been a million. He was just beaming with happiness and it was completely genuine. He was such a sweet guy, it just breaks my heart to think of it.
The public is welcome to join the postal workers union at the wreath laying and remembrance this afternoon at 5 PM in Watchung Plaza’s southern section.