Threats cause post office lockdown

ALBANY -- A former U.S. Postal Service employee threatened the postmaster with a gun in the south parking lot of the Albany main post office branch at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday, an Albany Police Department official said.

"Ron Bradley, the postmaster, was in a car with another supervisor," APD spokeswoman Phyllis Banks said. "He drove away, and the post office went into lockdown."

Martin Stratis, 52, was arrested at his 611 Magnolia Ave. home shortly after the incident, said Banks, who noted that at 7:30 p.m. Stratis was in transit to the Dougherty County Jail.

Banks said she expected postal officials to become part of the case with federal charges filed because of the confrontation at the 1501 South Slappey Blvd. facility.

The local charges against Stratis would probably include aggravated assault, Banks added.

"The main issue he (Stratis) was here (at the post office) to discuss was some paperwork about his retirement," Banks said. "He ended up threatening the postmaster with a gun and driving off."

During the lockdown, postal workers took mail from people who wanted to post letters. They would not discuss the situation.

People approaching the post office seemed to deal with the lockdown with puzzlement and resignation.

"It is hard to think of the post office being closed down," Walter Cowan, 79, said. "But I can't argue with an emergency."

The post office reopened at about 1:45 p.m.

On the front porch at Stratis' brick, ranch-style home Thursday evening, a couple of beer cans sat empty near a cooler and ashtrays full of cigarette butts. Green lettering on a sign spelled out postmaster Ron Bradley's name.

The rest of the sign's wording was obscured by the cooler. A police officer ordered a reporter to stop before a knock on the front door of the house could be made.

A woman with gray hair and glasses in a blue, terrycloth bathrobe came out the side door. She shook like a leaf in the wind as she spoke, saying she did not wish to give her name, nor did she wish to discuss what went on at the post office.

In the company of police officers she said, "It is still going on."

Neighbors around the corner on the 1700 block of Dawson Road were surprised by the commotion next door. They did not know about the post office confrontation.

"He is a strange guy. He marched to his own music, kept to himself, but he waved hello and was friendly," Matthew Denton, 37, said. "We've lived here seven months and never had a problem with him."

A state postal official said he was waiting for information on the case late Thursday afternoon. The lockdown was the first he had heard of in the state.

"In recent memory, I cannot recall a post office in Georgia being on lockdown before," said Atlanta's Michael Miles, communications manager for the postal service in the state. "I've been covering Georgia since 1997."