The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

August 19, 2006

Aug. 20, 1986: Just an ordinary day

By Jeff Mullin

Commentary



It was just another summer Wednesday in Oklahoma.

The state was waking up to another day promising near 100-degree temperatures, when the airwaves began to crackle with shocking news coming out of Edmond.

Something was happening at the Edmond Post Office. There were reports of shots fired and possible casualties.

At the time, early on the morning of Aug. 20, 1986, we didn’t know the half of it.

At about 7 a.m. that day Patrick Sherrill, an employee of the Edmond Post Office who had a history of discipline problems on the job, walked into his workplace carrying three handguns, two .45s and a .22, and began systematically shooting his fellow employees.

Sherrill, wearing his postal uniform, didn’t say a word as he methodically walked through the building, shooting first one fellow employee, then another.

His fellow postal workers were busy sorting trays of mail in preparation for their daily routes. Most of those killed were found near their work stations.



“I just happened to turn around and saw two of my carriers and a supervisor go down,” letter carrier Orson Cordis told The Associated Press.

Some employees thought the loud noises they heard were part of a prank, that someone had set off fireworks inside the building. But that notion was quickly dispelled.

“I looked down under my tray and saw one of my good friends hit the floor with blood coming out of him,” postal employee Vince Furlong told AP.

The first to die was Rick Esser, a 38-year-old supervisor. Esser was one of two supervisors who counseled Sherrill about his job performance the day before the shooting. The other, Bill Bland, was late to work that day and thus was spared.

One of those killed was Jonna Gragert Hamilton, 30, a night postal clerk who lived in Moore but who grew up in Douglas, graduating from Covington-Douglas High School in 1974. She studied nursing at Autry Technology Center and was a licensed practical nurse. She continued her nurse’s training at Central State University in Edmond. She had worked at the Edmond Post Office for four years.

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