A Milwaukee postal worker fatally shot Friday has been identified as Ondre Cross

The U.S. Postal Service employee who was shot and killed Friday while delivering mail in north Milwaukee has been identified as Ondre Cross.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago confirmed Cross’ identity to the Journal Sentinel. The agency said Saturday it was offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in the killing.

A spokesman for the agency said it would not provide further information at this time. The Chicago-based agency will coordinate the ongoing investigation with Milwaukee police.

A friend and former colleague, who asked to be identified simply as Tia R., told the Journal Sentinel that she worked with Cross, 44, for seven years before he left the USPS in 2021 and that Cross is the father of four children.

“He was a mentor to everybody,” she said. “He was always ready with a prayer, a joke or a story. He never let anyone leave (any situation) without a smile on his face.”

Tia said she met Cross when they both worked at the Teutonia Post Office a few years ago. They then work together at Hampton Avenue Station.

“He has two postal families,” she said. “Two groups of postal workers, past and present, who remember him.”

Ondre Cross is remembered as a positive and caring person

Tia remembers Cross as someone who was always positive, always working to put a smile on someone’s face “when they’re grieving or going through something.” She has many memories of “getting into trouble with him,” she quipped.

“We would get in trouble because we sang ‘Bananas in Pajamas’ every morning at work,” she said with a laugh. “Then one time after that he called me whispering from the parking lot that the bumper had fallen off his mail truck and he wanted me to come out and put it back on.

“I was like, ‘No, I’m not helping you with that. We just got in trouble for singing!” Tia said. “He always knew how important it was to have fun at work, especially those shifts where you’re working 12, 14 hour days. We have always said “you have to laugh to keep from crying”.

Before his victory in northwest Milwaukee, Cross was a mail clerk at New Pitts Mortuary, located at 2031 W. Capitol Drive in the Franklin Heights neighborhood.

Owner Michelle Pitts said she was devastated that Cross was killed. Although he left the area, he remained in touch with Pitts as recently as last month.

“He was reaching out saying he missed the area and wished he was still there,” Pitts said. “He was just checking me out.”

“He was a guy who could light up a room,” Pitts added. “When he came in to deliver our mail, he literally lit up the funeral home because he was always so cheerful. He was a man who loved God with everything in him. He would make sure he left some biblical message with you.

It was a sad day when Cross left the neighborhood, Pitts said. She talked about the connection a postal operator can have with the community.

“Once you see that guy, he became a part of — every day, you see that guy every day — he became a part of us, and when he was moved, we really missed him so much,” Pitts said.

“But he always reached out, sometimes even stopping by just to tell us he was checking on us and seeing how we were doing. He wanted everyone to be happy. He had one of the biggest smiles on his face… I can see him smiling right now. I don’t understand I don’t understand what happened.”

Postal workers are concerned about safety, a former colleague said

Tia said those long shifts have been a problem for many postal workers who are concerned about their safety, something that was just highlighted by Cross’ death.

Tia said the main reason she left the post office was because she felt unsafe carrying mail after dark. The cross was shot at around 6pm on Friday, after the sun had already set.

“We’re working longer hours and the volume of mail has increased,” Tia said. “I know the Post Office wants to be efficient, but it had to be separated. I know several other people who have left for similar reasons. We must not be there when it is dark; Is not safe.”

Pitts echoed Tia’s concern, saying she was telling Cross he shouldn’t deliver the mail at night and he was saying “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.”

“I would say, ‘Stay safe, keep your eyes open,’ and he was just the guy who believed everything was going to be OK,” Pitts said.

A link is also circulating on social media that reads: “We are in mourning. Milwaukee, Wisconsin’, which includes the USPS image and a black bar.

The fatal shooting happened in the 5000 block of North 65th Street

The incident happened in the 5000 block of North 65th Street, according to Milwaukee police. Cross was pronounced dead at the scene by the Milwaukee Fire Department.

As of Thursday, Milwaukee police had reported 205 homicides, up from the 193 recorded all of last year and the 190 reported in 2020. according to latest data available on the department’s crime statistics dashboard.

“The shooting death of a postal worker in Milwaukee is troubling,” Mayor Cavalier Johnson said in a statement Friday. My thoughts are with the victim’s family and colleagues.

Police have not arrested anyone. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (414) 935-7360, the US Postal Inspection Service at (877)-876-2455 or, to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at ( 414) 224-TIPS or P3 TIPS.

Jessica Van Eggeren is a reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She can be reached at [email protected]

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