Edmond post office shooting

The Edmond post office shooting was a mass shooting that occurred in Edmond, Oklahoma, on August 20, 1986. In less than fifteen minutes, 44 year-old postal worker Patrick Sherrill pursued and shot several coworkers, killing 14 and injuring another six, before committing suicide. It is currently the deadliest workplace shooting in U.S. history, as well as the deadliest shooting by a lone gunman in the state of Oklahoma.

Edmond post office shooting
LocationEdmond, Oklahoma, U.S.
DateAugust 20, 1986 (1986-08-20)
~7:00 - 7:15 a.m. (UTC-05)
TargetPostal workers
Attack type
Mass shooting, mass murder, workplace shooting, murder-suicide
Deaths15 (including the perpetrator)
PerpetratorPatrick Henry Sherrill
MotiveRevenge due to previous reprimands

The attack, among other similar incidences of violence perpetrated by postal workers, inspired the American phrase "going postal".[3]

Background edit

Sherrill was a relief carrier, meaning he was often required to work alternate routes on different days, a position dictated by his rank on the seniority list. His lack of a permanently assigned route meant that he lacked the same job stability as other USPS workers. Opinions vary concerning his job performance. Some reports portray him as an erratic, irritable worker; others claim he performed well and was being badgered by management. In any case, on the afternoon of August 19, 1986, supervisors Esser and Bland reprimanded Sherrill for his behavior.[4] Sherrill had threatened revenge twice out of anger towards being disciplined.[5]

Shooting edit

On August 20, 1986, Patrick Sherrill armed himself with a mail bag containing three semi-automatic pistols along with ammunition and arrived at his workplace.[6][5] Shortly after 7:00 a.m., he shot and killed Richard Esser, Jr., one of two supervisors who had verbally disciplined him the previous day. Sherrill then sought out Bill Bland, another supervisor who had reprimanded him. However, Bland had overslept that morning and arrived an hour late to work, by which time the shootings were already over. Not finding Bland, Sherrill then killed co-worker Paul Michael Rockne,[1] and sought more co-workers to kill.[5]

At the time of the attack, around 100 workers occupied the facility.[1] In total, Sherrill killed fourteen people and wounded six others.[5] The shooting ended after Sherrill committed suicide by shooting himself in the forehead as police entered the facility.[1][6]

Victims edit

Fourteen people were killed in the shooting, while six others were injured. Those killed were Patricia Ann Chambers, 41; Judy Stephens Denney, 41; Richard C. Esser Jr., 38; Patricia A. Gabbard, 47; Jonna Ruth Gragert, 30; Patty Jean Husband, 48; Betty Ann Jarred, 34; William F. Miller, 30; Kenneth W. Morey, 49; Leroy Orrin Phillips, 42; Jerry Ralph Pyle, 51; Paul Michael Rockne, 33; Thomas Wade Shader Jr., 31; and Patti Lou Welch, 27.[1]

Memorial edit

Memorial to the 1986 post office incident in Edmond, Oklahoma

The Yellow Ribbon Memorial is a commemorative outdoor structure dedicated to the victims of the Edmond, Oklahoma post office shooting. Dedicated on May 29, 1989, it is located outside the post office's main entry to the south. The memorial contains the bronze statue of a man and a woman standing atop the fountain's center base and holding the ribbon of which the bow is attached to the base. To represent the fourteen victims killed in the shooting, the fountain contains fourteen water jets and a plaque on the front of the base listing their names.[7]

The memorial was built by the Edmond community and the United States Postal Services;[8] the statue was created by sculptor Richard Muno (1939–2015).[8][9] Community members have gathered at the memorial to commemorate the victims, especially on the 25th (2011)[10] and 30th (2016)[11] anniversaries.

The memorial was surveyed in May 1996 as "well maintained", categorized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.[7] Over the years, the memorial slowly deteriorated with apparent "cracks in the concrete".[12][13] Throughout the early 2010s, operations of the fountain were halted for, according to USPS, "a damaged water supply line".[12] As of 2016, the fountain still operates seasonally.[11][13]

Perpetrator edit

Patrick Henry Sherrill (November 13, 1941 – August 20, 1986) was born in Watonga, Oklahoma, and had served in the United States Marine Corps. Sherrill was described as a loner by those who knew him.[14] He was considered an expert marksman,[1] gaining experience in small-arms through being in the Oklahoma Air National Guard,[5] in which he was a member of a pistol team.[1]

Subsequent postal shooting incidents edit

The 1986 Edmond incident was the first of several highly publicized postal shootings.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Justus, Dale (8 August 2011). Fifteen Minutes of Terror: Massacre at the Edmond Oklahoma Post Office. iUniverse, Incorporated. p. 34. ISBN 978-1462041985.
  2. ^ Ellis, Randy (22 August 1986). "Authorities Piece Together Tragedy Gunman at Edmond Post Office Knew Where to Shoot People". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  3. ^ Staff (September 4, 1994). "Shootings Seal Post Office Rep". Chicago Sun Times. Archived from the original on June 29, 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  4. ^ Staff (May 1, 2005). "On August 20, 1986, a part-time letter carrier named Patrick H. Sherrill, facing possible dismissal after a clear troubled work history". The Journal of Employee Assistance. Archived from the original on June 29, 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Edmond Post Office Massacre". okhistory.org. Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  6. ^ a b "Shootings Follow Threat Of Firing". da.tj.news. Evening Times Globe. August 21, 1986. Retrieved 16 August 2023.
  7. ^ a b "The Yellow Ribbon, (sculpture)". Art Inventories Catalog. Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved November 24, 2016. IAS OK000160.
  8. ^ a b Everett, Dianna (2009). "Edmond Post Office Massacre". The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  9. ^ Funeral of Richard Carl Muno (July 2, 1939 – July 28, 2015). Matthews Funeral Home and Cremation Service. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  10. ^ "Saturday Marks 25th Anniversary Of Edmond Post Office Massacre". News9.com. August 20, 2011. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Hermes, Grant (August 20, 2016). "Residents Gather For 30th Anniversary Of Edmond Post Office Massacre". News9.com. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  12. ^ a b Torp, Karl (August 13, 2012). "Memorial Fountain For Edmond Post Office Shooting Victims Runs Dry". News9.com. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Hermes, Grant (September 21, 2016). "Going Postal: How Safe Are We At Work?". News9.com. Retrieved November 25, 2016.
  14. ^ Morgan, Rhett (August 20, 2006). "Postal massacre remembered: It was 20 years ago today that 15 people were killed in Edmond". Tulsa World. Archived from the original on June 29, 2014. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  15. ^ Hanley, Robert (October 11, 1991). "4 Slain in 2 New Jersey Attacks And Former Postal Clerk Is Held". The New York Times.
  16. ^ "A former postal worker commits mass murder". The History Channel website. 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-11.
  17. ^ Levin, Doron P. (November 15, 1991). "Ex-Postal Worker Kills 3 and Wounds 6 in Michigan". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-26.
  18. ^ Gregory K. Moffatt, Blind-Sided: Homicide Where It Is Least Expected, at 37 (2000).
  19. ^ "Death in the Post Office: The Overview; Former Montclair Postal Worker Charged With Killings in Robbery". The New York Times. March 23, 1995.
  20. ^ Holusha, John; Archibold, Randal C. (2006-02-01). "Ex-Employee Kills 6 Others and Herself at California Postal Plant". The New York Times. Retrieved January 11, 2023.

External links edit