Aundre Cross has been identified as the U.S. Postal Service employee who was shot and killed Friday while delivering mail on Milwaukee’s north side.
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago confirmed Cross’ identity to the Journal Sentinel. The agency said Saturday it is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in the murder.
A spokesman for the agency said that no additional information will be provided at this time. The Chicago-based agency will coordinate with Milwaukee Police on the ongoing investigation. According to Milwaukee police, Cross was a 44-year-old father of four.
A friend and former co-worker, who only asked to be identified as Tia R., said she worked with Cross for seven years before leaving the USPS in 2021.
“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 two years ago when she worked at the Teutonia post office. They later worked together at the Hampton Avenue station.
“He has two post families,” he said. “Two groups of postal workers, both past and present, who remember him.”
Aundre Cross was remembered as a positive and caring person
Tia remembers Cross as someone who was always positive, always trying to put a smile on someone’s face, “whenever they were sad or going through something.” She joked that she has many memories of “getting into trouble with him.”
“We’d get in trouble for singing ‘Bananas in Pajamas’ every morning at work,” she said with a laugh. “Then one time after that he called me and whispered from the parking lot that the bumper had come off his mail truck and he wanted me to get out to put it back on.
“No, I’m not helping you with that. We’re in trouble just because we’re singing!” Tia said. “He always knew how important it was to have fun at work, especially when you’re working 12-, 14-hour shifts. We always said, ‘You have to laugh so you don’t cry.'”
Before he was beaten on Milwaukee’s northwest side, Cross was a mail clerk for New Pitts Mortuary, located at 2031 W. Capitol Drive in the Franklin Heights neighborhood.
Owner Michelle Pitts said she was saddened by Cross’s slaying. Although he left the area, he stayed in touch with Pitts as recently as last month.
“He was saying he missed the area and wished he was still there,” Pitts said. “He was just checking me out.”
“He was a person who could light up a room,” Pitts added. “When he came in to deliver our mail, he would literally set the funeral on fire because he was always so cheerful. He was a man who loved God with all his heart. He wanted to make sure he left you some kind of biblical message.
It was a sad day when Cross left the neighborhood, Pitts said. He talked about the mail carrier’s connection to the community.
“Once we saw that person, he became a part of us — you see it every day, every day — he became a part of us, and we missed him a lot when he transferred,” Pitts said.
“But he was always reaching out, sometimes even stopping to check on us and see 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 now. I do not understand. I don’t understand what happened.”
A former co-worker said postal workers were worried about security
Tia said those long lines are a concern for many postal workers who worry about their safety, something highlighted by Cross’ death.
Tia said the main reason she left the postal service was because she felt unsafe carrying mail after dark. Cross was shot 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 I had to separate myself. I know a few other people who go for similar reasons. We shouldn’t be out there when it’s dark; it’s not safe.”
Pitts echoed Tia’s concerns, saying she was telling Cross that he shouldn’t be delivering the mail at night and he would say, “I have to do what I have to do.”
“I would say, ‘Be safe, keep your eyes open,’ and he was a man of faith that everything was going to be okay,” Pitts said.
Also circulating on social media is a link with a picture of the USPS and a black ribbon that reads, “We are in mourning. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.”
The fatal shooting happened in the 5000 block of North 65th Street
According to Milwaukee police, the incident happened in the 5000 block of North 65th Street. Cross was pronounced dead at the scene by the Milwaukee Fire Department.
Milwaukee police on Thursday reported 205 homicides, up from 193 last year and up from 190 in 2020, according to the latest data available on the department’s crime statistics dashboard.
“The shooting death of a postal worker in Milwaukee is alarming,” Mayor Cavalier Johnson said in a statement Friday. “My thoughts are with the victim’s family and colleagues.”
There is no one in police custody. Anyone with information is asked to contact police at (414) 935-7360, the US Postal Inspection Service at (877)-876-2455 or Crime Stoppers at (414) 224-TIPS or P3 TIPS to remain anonymous .
Jessica Van Egeren is a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.