The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 12, 2009
Department of Transportation employees murdered at work

Deborah Ross, 51-year-old CalTrans toll collector for eight years, was shot and killed Tuesday evening while working at the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. The shooter also killed a man in a parking lot at the bridge toll plaza. Authorities haven't released the second victim's identity, but they have said that he also was a bridge toll collector.

As of late Tuesday night, police were looking for suspect Nathaniel Burris, 46. who has family in Sacramento, according to this report by the Associated Press and The Bee's Julie Johnson.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Ross and Burris lived together and that money problems may have been a factor in the killing:

A friend of Ross and Burris told The Chronicle the two had known each other for seven years and had been having financial problems. Ross was apparently about to break up with Burris and complained that "he had a temper and was unpredictable."

"I think it was financial stress," said the friend, who did not want to be identified. "What happened today was jealousy. ... There was something wrong with him."

Click here to read the Chronicle's report.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered Capitol flags flown at half-staff in Ross's honor. Click here to read the governor's press statement.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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