A pharmacist charged with murder told police he had killed before, while overseas in the first Gulf War. But according to his military records, he was never there.
Instead, Jerome Jay Ers-land spent the war in 1991 as the pharmacy chief at the military hospital at Altus Air Force Base in southwestern Oklahoma, records show.
Ersland fatally shot a robber May 19 at the Reliable Discount Pharmacy in Oklahoma City.
The shooting attracted national attention when prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder, alleging he went too far while defending himself. Military veterans rallied to his support after he described himself as an Army veteran injured during Operation Desert Storm. He told The Oklahoman
in May he hurt his back during a mortar attack.
Ersland, 57, of Chickasha, insisted again Friday that he served in Iraq during the war. He said he flew overseas from Altus to supply Army troops with nerve agent antidotes and spent time in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq. He said he was there for about 48 days, both before and after the war started. He said he was in the Air Force but serving as a liaison to the Army. He insisted he was injured while overseas, but didn’t know how bad he was hurt at the time. He said he hid his back injury from the military so "I wouldn’t get kicked out.”
He would not say Friday whether he killed anyone in combat.
"There’s no way to prove it,” Ersland said. "And I found out if you can’t prove it, you can’t say it. ... I know now that I have to be able to prove everything on paper. ... I can tell you one thing, though. That is: I do have dreams, bad nightmares, about that, every night. ... That’s every night. They’re just horrible dreams, about six specific soldiers being dead ... lying beside one another and they haven’t been body bagged yet and I knew all of them. And then I always dream about body parts of Iraqis, of people.
"I can’t ever get rid of that, and so I’m treated with a sleeping medication and anti-depressants to try to get me past that.”
The government last week released to The Oklahoman
eight pages about Ersland’s military service, first in the Army and then in the Air Force. Reporters also reviewed other records about Ersland’s military service.
Prosecutors doubted Ersland’s accounts about his Gulf War service, and they subpoenaed his military papers from the government to check his statements.