Shortly before a daily staff meeting yesterday at the Potrero Hill UPS facility, driver Jimmy Lam, 36, entered the facility and shot multiple co-workers, wounding two and killing three others.
A UPS driver who was near the customer pickup area told Hoodline that he didn’t hear the shots, which rang out shortly before 9am.
“I heard some people running by me, saying 'someone’s shooting up there,'” said the driver, a 15-year employee who asked to remain anonymous. “I grabbed my stuff and ran outside, and I ran right into where the shooting was,” he added.
When he emerged on the street, UPS employees Wayne Chan, 56, and Benson Louie, 50, had already succumbed to their gunshot wounds. Another driver, Mike Lefiti, 46, was still alive, he said.
“Jimmy ran back into the building, and Mike was still alive with people trying to resuscitate him,” but efforts were unsuccessful. Lefiti died moments later.
In the aftermath, our witness said he and several co-workers tried to take cover in the area. “Some people went around to Il Pirata [16th St. & Utah] and were just chilling there until we got further information, but I ran up the street away from the shooting,” he said, ending up near Potrero Ave. and 17th Street.
After running back inside the building, Lam turned the gun on himself and took his own life. Police issued a shelter in place order as they did a room-to-room search and evacuated workers.
UPS driver Brandi Porter, who wasn’t at work yesterday, told Hoodline that the daily meeting usually starts at 8:30 and includes about 55 drivers and supervisors. Because the session is only “four to five minutes,” her first impression was that Lam intended to kill or injure many people.
Although he said he didn’t know what would drive Lam to shoot several co-workers, the driver we spoke to also said he believed that Lam timed his assault to inflict maximum casualties.
“Right when the meeting started, that’s when all the commotion started,” he said. “I definitely think he waited for the meeting to start.”
The driver described Lam as “kind of a quiet dude, but a hard worker who was always angry about doing his overtime,” a common stressor for many UPS drivers who routinely put in long hours behind the wheel and on the streets.
“He really wasn’t like himself, because that isn’t something that Jimmy would have done,” he said.
“Sometimes you do get overwhelmed,” said Porter, a 16-year UPS employee. “They say UPS drivers and police officers have the highest rate of divorce, and I say that’s because of the overtime," she said.
"You’ll never know what goes on in the mind of a UPS truck driver,” she added.
Despite the shootings, the driver we spoke to was back at work today at the Potrero Hill facility, where UPS is offering counseling. The Department of Health is also offering services to members of the public; to reach a counselor, call 415-970-4000.
“We all think that the best counseling is talking to each other about it, because we all experienced it,” said the driver. “You have to keep pushing; you can’t let one thing mess everything up.”
Porter said UPS provides a supportive work environment, but acknowledged that she now has new concerns about returning to work.
“It’s pretty hard that I have to go back to this job but I don’t know if it’s safe,” said Porter. “We have metal detectors, but if a person can get into a job with a gun, how safe can it be?” she asked.
“We all knew something like this was gonna happen as far as a disgruntled employee,” said the unnamed driver. “We all felt it.”