Man Admits to Shooting Postal Worker That He Believed Had Poisoned Him

A man has admitted to fatally shooting a postal worker just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Thursday, said authorities. The act appears to have been a type of retaliation: the suspect said he shot the postal worker because he thought he had previously poisoned him and his family with cyanide.

Eric M. Kortz, 53, told authorities that he had previously been neighbors with the victim, identified as Louis Vignone—and Kortz alleged that Vignone poisoned his family in that time period, reported the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania in a press release.

Notorious for its toxic qualities, cyanide has a long history as a poisoning agent and can be delivered via ingestion, topical absorption through the skin, or from inhaling it as a gas. The circumstances of Kortz' alleged poisoning, however, remain unclear at the time of writing.

The incident occurred in Allegheny County's Collier Township. When officers arrived, they found Vignone's body. The postal worker had suffered multiple gunshot wounds, one of which was to the head, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Vignone was dressed in his United States Postal Service (USPS) uniform and was located inside his USPS truck. He had been on-duty at the time of the incident.

Authorities were able to find a firearm at the scene, along with "seven spent shell casings" nearby.

Meanwhile, Kortz drove himself to the Carnegie Borough Police Department, where he arrived shortly after the shooting. According to the news release, "he stated that he shot someone and wanted to turn himself in."

Authorities transferred the suspect to the Allegheny County Police Headquarters, where he agreed to be interviewed on camera. In that conversation, Kortz revealed that the motive for the crime was as a response to the poisoning allegedly committed by Vignone.

He also admitted to knowing where Vignone worked, stating that he intentionally found the mail carrier on his route. At that point, he "drove his vehicle toward Vignone's USPS vehicle, and stopped in front of the vehicle to stop Vignone," explained the report.

Kortz told police explicitly that he "went to put some bullets in him," in reference to Vignone.

After the shooting, Kortz reportedly left his weapon, got in his vehicle, and headed to the police station.

He has been charged with the murder of a federal employee and, if convicted, faces a maximum punishment of life imprisonment or death, reported the press release.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the violent crime has shocked the quiet, residential area of Collier. The newspaper spoke with local resident Ken Bock, who said Vignone had been delivering mail in the community for about 15 years.

"He didn't seem like anybody could have a grudge against him," said Bock. "Just seemed like a real nice guy."

USPS Truck
Eric M. Kortz turned himself in to police after allegedly shooting a postal worker he thought had poisoned him and his family. A United States Postal Service truck outside of a post office in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images