Photo Corners

A   S C R A P B O O K   O F   S O L U T I O N S   F O R   T H E   P H O T O G R A P H E R

Enhancing the enjoyment of taking pictures with news that matters, features that entertain and images that delight. Published frequently.

Friday Slide Show: Mike Lefiti Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

23 June 2017

June 14 was not a pretty day in this country. In Washington D.C., gunman fired on Republican congressmen at a morning baseball practice and hours later in San Francisco a disgruntled UPS employee killed three fellow drivers at a morning meeting.

Lefiti Memorial. A tribute to the Diamond Heights UPS man.

Among the three UPS drivers killed was Mike Lefiti, a 17-year employee who delivered to the Diamond Heights route and had just celebrated his seventh wedding anniversary.

Lefiti wasn't our UPS driver but his route is just next door to us. We often hike over to the post office in the Diamond Heights shopping center where he would take his breaks in the large marked off spot in the parking lot between the Safeway and Creighton's bakery.

And on Monday, five days after the shooting, with a bill to get into the mail, we walked over there at 10 in the morning.

We knew local residents had left some flowers and balloons there as a memorial to Lefiti. In fact, the Safeway nearly sold out of flowers the previous Wednesday when the makeshift memorial began taking shape.

But we didn't expect the memorial to run the length of the walkway.

Lefiti was raised in Daly City, on the southern border of San Francisco, and graduated from Westmmoor High School in 1990. His former American history teacher at Westmoor Murray Schneider wrote a fond tribute to him after learning of the tragedy.

His customers loved him for his big smile, silly jokes and for asking after their families and friends.

The Hercules resident was the father of three: 22-year-old Noni Mercedes, 18-year-old Jeremiah and 15-year-old Malaki.

His customers loved him for his big smile, silly jokes and for asking after their families and friends.

They would leave him keys or give him the code to their garage for drop offs. When it rained, he would wrap the packages in cling wrap to keep them dry.

He'd give you the shirt off his back. Literally.

Brandi Porter, a UPS driver for 16 years, remembers starting at the company, "When I came to work, I couldn't fit in any of my uniforms but Big Mike said, 'I have some in my locker, I'll give them to you. Go ahead and make your money.'"

Big Mike was Samoan. His shirt fit Brandi.

He was shot in the back on June 14. Mike McDonald, returning home from work was passing by the UPS facility at just that moment. Paramedics couldn't assist because the area hadn't been secured. So McDonald stayed with Lefiti.

"If he was going to die, he didn't need to die alone," McDonald said. "He's just a human being who deserves another human being to sit there and spend the time with him and talk to him and listen to what he has to say.

"For once in my time, I shut my mouth and listened. And he said what he had to say: he loves his family, he loves his children and that he didn't do anything to this man. He doesn't understand why he shot him."

We took some photos of the memorial. It was a tight fit on the narrow sidewalk with a 35mm lens. We were constantly backing up or moving forward. Occasionally someone would step in front of us to read the tributes, suddenly realize they were in our shot and invariably apologize.

We composed our shots, coming in close to capture some of the tributes, backing up to frame small groups of things. And as we did, one thing became very clear to us.

No bullet has the piercing power of a kind man.

BackBack to Photo Corners