(KFOR) – An Oklahoma County Sheriff’s deputy is dead and another is fighting for his life after both were shot by a suspect Monday afternoon while serving an eviction notice. The suspect, who was not named, has been taken into custody after leading authorities on a pursuit that ultimately ended near an Air Force base.
During a press conference shortly after 2:30 p.m. CT Monday, Sheriff Tommie Johnson said two deputies had been serving an eviction notice at an Oklahoma City home as part of a routine procedure by the sheriff’s office.
According to court documents obtained by Nexstar’s KFOR, the homeowner had tried to evict a family member who owed at least $1,500 in back rent. A judge granted that request within the past week.
While serving the eviction notice, deputies made contact with a person at the front door, according to Johnson. He said the deputies then went to the back door but did not explain why.
“They went around to the backdoor, and that’s when the shooting began,” Johnson said. “[The suspect] shot the first deputy. The second deputy tried to get that deputy out of the way of gunfire, and then he was struck as well.”
At least one of the two deputies was able to return fire at the suspect, Capt. Valerie Littlejohn, of the Oklahoma City Police Department, said during a separate news conference shortly after 3:30 p.m. CT at Tinker Air Force Base.
Following the shooting, authorities say the suspect fled in a pickup truck with a boat attached. Law enforcement personnel quickly located the suspect’s vehicle, not far from the scene of the shooting, and pursued him, according to Littlejohn.
Police radio traffic said officials spotted the suspect’s vehicle along I-35, and that the suspect had begun shooting out of a window at police.
“During the pursuit, the suspect was firing rounds at the officers, and we had officers returning fire at the suspect,” Littlejohn said.
Helicopter footage showed the suspect’s vehicle enter I-40, heading eastbound with about 20 law enforcement officers in pursuit. The suspect could be seen speeding and hitting multiple construction cones as he entered the construction area of I-40 near Del City.
The chase approached the area of nearby Tinker Air Force Base and authorities were able to catch up to the suspect.
The pursuit came to an end at Tinker’s entrance.
Multiple agencies then assisted in taking the suspect into custody without further incident.
Littlejohn said it is currently unknown why the suspect surrendered at Tinker.
“At this time, we don’t know why he came here – if he purposefully came here or if he took a wrong turn,” she said.
Neither the suspect nor pursuing law enforcement personnel were struck by gunfire during the pursuit on the highway, according to Littlejohn.
“It’s fortunate that none of the other officers were struck by gunfire,” she said.
A type of rifle was found in the suspect’s possession, according to Littlejohn.
Oklahoma City police will handle the investigation into the shooting.
Both deputies, who were rushed to the hospital, were alive as Sheriff Johnson held his press conference after the suspect was taken into custody. He broke down in tears as he spoke about them.
“It’s a sad day for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office,” Johnson said. He noted that agencies from around the state were sharing their support for his office. “Law enforcement is a tight community, and I’m so thankful … they were screaming across the state for my guys.”
Aaron Brilbeck, the Public Information Officer for the Sheriff’s Office, was also in tears as he discussed the shooting. He described both deputies as seasoned members of the Sheriff’s Office.
In a 4:30 p.m. CT post to social media, the Oklahoma City Sheriff’s Office confirmed one of the deputies, Sgt. Bobby Swartz, had succumbed to his injuries.
The second deputy, who has not yet been identified, is listed as being in stable condition at OU Health in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt called it a “heartbreaking day,” adding that “today and every day, Oklahoma stands with our law enforcement community.”
A procession of law enforcement members escorted Swartz’s body as it was being transported from OU Health to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
When asked what the community can do for the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, Brilbeck simply said “pray.”
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