Massacre Survivors Tell Of Deadly Quiet Punctuated By Gunshots With PM-Post Office Shooting
Aug. 21, 1986
Massacre Survivors Tell Of Deadly Quiet Punctuated By Gunshots With PM-Post Office Shooting Bjt
EDMOND, Okla. (AP) _ Diane Mason normally can't wait to begin her work each morning as a postal carrier, but says she'll never fel that way again.
Ms. Mason, 38, was one of the survivors of Wednesday morning's massacre at the post office by Pat Sherrill, a disgruntled employee who police say shot and killed 14 co-workers before killing himself with a single gunshot to the head.
Six others were wounded, while 70 to 80 employees escaped unharmed.
''I've always loved going into work,'' said Ms. Mason, 38, who has worked at the post office for 18 months. ''I've gotten into trouble for actually starting a little early.
''This is the greatest working environment you could ever ask for, but it's never going to be the same.''
Police said Sherrill, 44, walked into the post office about 7 a.m. and opened fire on postal workers who were sorting mail for their morning routes.
''I heard moans and groans and it got real quiet, then I heard someone yell, 'He's got a gun.''' said Roger Nelson, an employee. ''I knew then he was going to waste everybody he could.''
''After the first shots were fired ... I crouched down in the littlest ball I could make,'' Ms. Mason said. ''He kept getting closer and closer. ... He stopped, then the footsteps started moving away. I never saw him, but if he came up close enough, he would have seen me. ...
''It's just a miracle he didn't get me.''
Joyce Gragert of Douglas came to the City Council chambers Wednesday to hear about the shooting spree that took the life of her daughter, Jonna Gragert Hamilton. Mrs. Gragert said she and her husband were not bitter.
''He was a very sick man. I feel sorry for his family,'' she said. ''I'm sure he had no animosity against her. I think it's just a matter of going berserk and being in the way.''
When the shooting began, postal workers streamed out unlocked doors, carrying some of the wounded.
''I saw a guy standing there with a bag on his shoulder and a pistol in his hand. That's when I turned and ran,'' said carrier Clint Turner.
Between gunshots, the post office was ''absolutely quiet,'' Ms. Mason said. ''The smell of gunpowder filled the air.''
A friend, Tom Montgomery, whispered that the front doors were open and several workers made a run for it, she said.
Another friend, Bill Miller, didn't make it.
''Bill had gotten out of his crouched position and looked up at me like a lost little puppy,'' she said. ''I assumed ... he'd be right with us but he didn't do it. I don't know if he froze or what.
Fellow employees said Sherrill was a loner who seldom spoke to others and did not take part in the good-natured camaraderie the others enjoyed.
''I wouldn't know the sound of him,'' Ms. Mason said. ''In my whole life, I never heard this man's voice. Nobody knew him.''