One killed, two injured in domestic issue at paper
MOUNT VERNON — The Oct. 30, 1963, issue of the Mount Vernon News carried a headline story of a fatal shooting earlier that day in its own advertising department.
Decades before the term “active shooter” came to dominate headlines about gun violence, News advertising salesman Richard Merrin, 46, was shot and killed in a rampage that also saw two other News staffers injured.
Reading stories from the News almost 55 years later, the shooting is eerily similar to the active shooter situations of today. There are parallels with the shooting one week ago that took the lives of five staff members at the Maryland Capitol Gazette June 28. Employees hid beneath desks or where ever else they could find shelter. Both shooters had a problem with the newspaper staff. As the shots rang out, terror reigned.
Like the Capitol Gazette did one week ago, News staff were persistent to not miss a beat in publishing a newspaper.
News staffers went back to work after the lunch-time shooting not knowing right away if the shooter, Orville Perkey, had been apprehended or not, fearful that he may come back. The front page was edited to include a six-column headline announcing the shooting and Merrin’s death along with basic details of the deadly encounter and that the suspect had been apprehended about an hour later.
The next day, a story written by reporter Bob Dixon recounted how 33-year-old Orville Perkey entered the office and fired the shots that killed Merrin and injured Joe Poljak and Malcolm Francis. Perkey had entered the office at 12:22 p.m. and confronted his ex-wife, Peggy Walker, with a loaded, single shot .20-gauge shotgun. As Walker begged for her life, Merrin stepped out of his office, spoke a single word — “What” — and was shot in the lower abdomen by Perkey.