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Remembering the first postal shooting in Edmond

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Wreaths set up after shooting to remember victims.

Wreaths set up after shooting to remember victims.

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Wreaths set up after shooting to remember victims.

Ainsley Martinez, North Staff Writer

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When twenty workers at the Edmond Post Office worked side by side with Patrick Sherrill, no one knew that they would be apart of the first post office shooting- and that Sherrill would be the one to coin the phrase “going postal”. However, before it was seemingly another summer’s day in 1986. For example, Michael Bigler, a mail carrier, could have been delivering mail to the many apartment complexes he carried for. A twenty seven year old Patti Lou Welch would’ve been at the office as a clerk, as would have six other victims. And on that normal day when supervisor Richard Esser, Jr. verbally disciplined Sherrill- it unknowingly made him the first target the next day. August 26th, 1986 would be marked as the first postal shooting ever in history, tragically making it a historical event in the small town of Edmond.

Patrick Sherrill’s job wasn’t the most glamorous out of all the positions at the post office. As a relief carrier he was normally required to work alternate routes on different days. Not having a permanent route caused him to not have the same job stability as other workers, and made him feel inferior in the office. His lack of stability and criticism by management were conversed as root motives by fellow workers. But whatever the motive, something caused Sherrill to kill fourteen workers, and injure six that day- and nothing would be quite the same.

Michael Bigler was harshly wounded in the shooting, but survived with a 7 inch scar across his back. Bigler credits his survival to God, as he has served as an evangelist after the event. He said the  psychological pain of listening to his coworkers scream was worse than the wound to his back. He still suffers from various triggers, especially when neighbors put down their cattle with guns in Choctaw, Oklahoma.

“Is it friendly fire or are they trying to mow me down again,” Bigler said when explaining his thoughts.  

Bigler, at 66, still feels the effects of the shooting. However, he has committed his life to his faith, and contributes it to the peace he found within the event.

During the shooting, Tracy Sanchez was 28 and five months pregnant. At first she thought the loud bangs were firecrackers going off as she stood inside a supply closet. It wasn’t until she heard the chaos of her coworkers screaming that she realized what was going on. In 1987, she was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For many years, on July 4th she would experience tremendous distress and end up spending the night vomiting. Sanchez’s daughter Chelsea is now 29 and lives in central Florida.

Especially with recent events, it’s important to look back on previous shootings. Those that survived still feel the pain of the shooting. In Edmond, Oklahoma a water fountain was placed to memorialize the victims. It stands in downtown Edmond, in front of the post office.

Those interested can still visit the memorial at the Edmond Post Office.

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