“The Sherrill, New York Incident” podcast re-released May 15 in honor of National Police Week

Sept. 8, 1969, is a date still remembered by many in and around Sherrill, a Monday evening when a man set out on a reign of terror.

Martin Fitzpatrick of Syracuse robbed a gas station at gunpoint in Canastota; when the attendant called police, a be-on-the-lookout alert was sent to Oneida and Sherrill police for the man and his car. Soon after, Sherrill police officer Robert Mumford, Sr., saw a car matching the description and stopped the driver. Mumford was joined by Sherrill Police Chief Thomas Reilly, and both officers questioned the man.

Fitzpatrick offered an explanation, which caused the officers to question whether they had the right man. As they waited for Canastota police to bring the gas station victim to them, Fitzpatrick drew a gun and shot them both. Sgt. (Ret’d) Wayne Coston of Oneida Police Department was the radio dispatcher for the region, and he recalled the tragic night more than 50 years ago.

“I can never get Tom’s [Reilly] voice out of my mind,” he said. “’I’m shot. I’m shot. God help me, I’m shot.’”

Those words resonate with Coston to this very day.

But Fitzpatrick’s reign of terror was not over. As he fled from Sherrill, he headed east toward Utica, where a police dragnet was focused. But Fitzpatrick had pulled off onto side roads and was soon at the door of a remote, country house – the residence of Marie DiLapi who was home alone with her two young girls. The man knocked at the door on the ruse of asking for directions, but then forced his way inside while brandishing a gun. After tearing the telephone from the wall, he ordered Marie to drive him to Syracuse in her car, with her young girls in the back seat.

DiLapi navigated her way to Syracuse through lonely back roads. When they got to Salina Street, Fitzpatrick got out of the car. At about the same time back at the hospital in Oneida, Mumford succumbed to his injuries. Reilly is being treated for gunshot wounds, but he refused pain medication, knowing that he might have to identify the shooter, which he does the following day. Five days after he was shot, Reilly died from his injuries.

The audio podcast titled, “God Help Me, I’m Shot,” was re-released May 15 in commemoration of National Police Week (May 12-18) and features interviews with the family of Mumford and Reilly, two eyewitnesses to the shooting and kidnap victim DiLapi Nordberg and her daughters who recall the heroic actions of their mother in facing down an armed kidnapper and getting them all out alive. Coston and retired Deputy Fran Broski also remember the day in vivid detail and share their thoughts about the loss of two dear friends. And then-Officer Doug Bailey – who retired as acting Madison County Sheriff – recalls the day he learned of the shootings in Sherrill and how that motivated him to a lifelong career in law enforcement.

The podcast, hosted by retired Police Chief Mark Spawn, explores the violent rampage by a callous criminal and the impact this event had on people across the Canastota, Oneida and Sherrill communities. “God Help Me, I’m Shot” is a special APB Behind The Badge episode of the APB Cold Case true crime audio podcast series.

For more information, Visit APBColdCase.com for podcast episodes, blog, and show notes. Podcast available in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, Audacy, YouTube and other major podcast platforms.

APB Cold Case is an original production of The Spawn Group, LLC. Spawn is a retired police chief from Upstate New York; he is an experienced criminal investigator, author, law enforcement consultant and trainer.

By martha

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