Former Silkwood roommate shot after standoff with Guthrie police

Thursday, July 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

GUTHRIE, Okla. (AP) _ Police on Wednesday shot the former roommate of anti-nuclear activist Karen Silkwood after she held officers at bay for several hours.

Sherri Ellis was treated and released from a local hospital Wednesday night, officials said. Ellis was then taken to the Logan County jail, where she was being held on a complaint of vandalizing a church, interim Police Chief Rex Brown said.

As officers arrived at Ellis' residence about 3:30 p.m. to arrest her, they saw Ellis, 48, run inside. Brown said Ellis grabbed a gun and held three officers inside her house after they ran in after her.

The officers escaped through the window while she was guarding the house's only door, Brown said. Police tried to negotiate with Ellis for more than two hours.

Ellis emerged from the house with a weapon after police sprayed tear gas inside, Brown said.

Kym Koch, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, said Ellis pointed a gun at police at that point.

``When she came out of the door she had a weapon and she was leveling it against one of the officers,'' Ellis said. ``Two officers fired, one with a less-than-lethal weapon and one with a bullet.''

Koch said the gunshot hit Ellis in the shoulder, but she didn't know where the other weapon hit.

Ellis was a roommate of Silkwood, who died in a traffic accident in 1974. At the time, Silkwood was in a union fight with Kerr-McGee Nuclear Corp. about the company's safety practices at its Cimarron plant south of Crescent.

``She had been calling the sheriff's office the last few weeks saying she knows who killed Karen Silkwood,'' Koch said of Ellis. ``She's also been calling TV stations about that as well.'' that as well.''

Guthrie police received a call about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday that Lakeview Baptist Church had been vandalized, Brown said. He said Ellis lives across the street from the church.

Brown said someone painted a pentagram on the church's front doors and obscenities on the outside walls, broke out several stained-glass windows, and broke some planters around the church.

Ellis was charged with trespassing in 1975 after she scaled a fence at the Kerr-McGee Cimarron Plant with an unloaded rifle, records show.

A woman identified as Sherri Ellis was also charged in 1982 with feloniously pointing a weapon and assaulting an officer in Santa Fe, N.M.

Police said she blocked the front door of a Santa Fe nursing home with a pickup before entering the facility with a shotgun and holding 170 people hostage.

Officers said Ellis later claimed she was protesting because one of the home's residents was being mistreated.