Patrick Sherrill, the man I didn’t know.

Posted on February 22, 2018
Filed Under Amateur Radio, Rants and Ramblings | Leave a Comment

August 20, 1986 is a day I will ever remember.
That is the day I walked into the living room and the TV had a picture of a balding man on it. I yelled to my wife – “Hey that’s Pat Sherrill on TV”. I turned up the TV only to hear he had killed 14 people and himself on the job at the Post Office in Edmond Oklahoma.  Denial and shock was my first feeling. That isn’t the guy I knew years ago.

Patrick Sherrill, WB5JYK.

Pat was a bit odd. Not scary odd…just not your *normal* acting dude.

I met Pat via Amateur Radio back around 1974 or 1975. I had communicated with him several times and one day…he just showed up at my house. I was around 16-17 at the time.  I was a bit put off that he just showed up. He didn’t stay long.  We talked about radio stuff. After that we became common communicators via ham radio. I would even say he was a friend. Somewhat older…but that really wasnt unusual as most Amateur Radio folks were older than I was at the time.

Belonging to some of the same radio clubs in Oklahoma City.  Pat was somewhat involved in emergency communications via the Amateur radio club and participated in the annual field day extravaganza. Not only did he show up for events, he would help setup and take down.  Believe it or not that is unusal. Most people show up for a while then leave.  Pat actually helped.  His  Amateur Radio call sign was WB5JYK. In 1976 he used the centennial prefix of AB5JYK.

Prior to my joining the USAF I worked at Black Radio Co. where I repaired and installed commercial radios, including State law enforcement agencies.  I recommended Pat for a job there when an opening became available.  I worked with and alongside him for over a year.  He was always polite. Somewhat soft spoken. Very smart. However sometimes he did work a bit slower than expected.  That being said he generally did a good job.

We all make mistakes periodically.  One or two  of his come to mind.  He was installing a radio in a vehicle. It required a high current source so it connected directly to the car battery with heavy cables.  In hilarious hindsight I remember him slamming the hood of the car. Moments later smoke starts billowing out from the engine compartment. I ran over and opened the hood and saw a glowing  red hot wire melting its way through the many hoses in the compartment. With the nut driver I still had in my grasp, I hooked the wire lifting it and yanked it loose from the battery connection. Pat had mounted the circuit breaker too high and when he closed the hood it shorted to the vehicle body.  Our boss, Elmo Black, was a very good gentleman and didn’t fire Pat. Or even yell at him.  Just paid to have the vehicle repaired. Thankfully no fire broke out.
There was another incident involving a drill and long screws. Somehow Pat drilled through the center console / transmission hump to mount a radio. Sadly he also drilled INTO the transmission. Oops! Didn’t get fired for that one either.

Civil Service –

Pat was always talking about wanting to get a job with civil service and the Post office. To this day I have no idea why that was one of his life goals. Maybe the retirement.  He certainly had the ability/knowledge to make more money, at least in the short term.  Like I said he was a bit odd. I guess he did achieve that goal. I am sure he was appalled and disappointed to learn such jobs have a lot office politics.

I have no recollection of Pat talking about guns or rifles, even when another co-worker brought in his Thompson Contender handgun. Or when the OSBI agents showed us their weapons mounted in their trunks of vehicles.  If the vehicle had to stay overnight they had to remove the guns.

Something must have changed in his life since I had last saw him.  Six years had passed since our last meeting and when he killed his co-workers and himself. Somehow, in his mind, things twisted beyond his ability to control it.  Nothing his coworkers did could have justified his actions. Somehow in his mind he was justified. Somehow his mind got sick. Tragically he hurt others before taking his own life.

He will always be remembered  as “Going Postal”.

I try to just remember the Pat I knew, not the Crazy Pat everyone knows about.


For the curious here are some links to pages about Pat and his role in the Edmond murders. Some are subjective and more prone to sensationalism.

Wikipedia

Oklahoma Historical Society

 

 

 

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