Muskogee business owner dies of flu, according to family friends

Steve Whittinghill, owner of Whittinghill Disposal Service in Muskogee, passed away last night due to complications of the influenza virus, according to family friends.

According to the Muskogee County Health Department, as of last week, the county had reported no flu deaths, so if Mr. Whittinghill's death is flu-related, it would be the county's first flu death.

The state Department of Health, however, said Muskogee County already had a flu death on the books as of the Jan. 20 report - the latest numbers available. According to that report, Muskogee had one flu death and 30 hospitalizations due to flu as of Jan. 20.

Steve Whittinghill had owned the disposal service since he bought it in 1987, according to the company's web site.

Service details are pending.

Filed under: Local Sad Exclusive
This story has been revised 2 times
  • By Leif M. Wright on Monday, January 26, 2015 at 9:15:38 a.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif M. Wright on Monday, January 26, 2015 at 10:02:51 a.m. (VIEW)
This story has 1 comment
ytsur, on Monday, January 26, 2015 at 10:27:29 a.m., said:
very sad! Prayers are with the family

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Half a million people viewed this site yesterday

In case anyone was wondering whether the shooting of a man by police in Muskogee was generating any kind of interest outside Muskogee, the numbers are in: 493,642 people viewed the story on MuskogeeNOW.com yesterday, a viewership record by far.

Raw hits were far, far larger, upwards of 2 million, but we only count unique IP addresses as viewers, meaning even though our server served up pages 2 million times, when we count just IP addresses, half a million different people viewed the site yesterday. (The log file itself was almost 500 megabytes).

On Facebook, 50,000 people viewed our post on the story - a record for our Facebook page as well.

What all that says is that people are very interested in this story. I've been a member of the media since 1988 - you do the math, it hurts my head. Since 1988, the media have all been interested in one thing: what do readers want. Focus groups are consistent: readers want positive stories, stories about the high school student who helps little old ladies at the retirement home, the quilting bee that raises lots of money for leukemia research, the biker who saves a puppy from euthanasia. That's what people say they want. Consistently.

And such stories are a staple of newspapers and this site.

But from way on back, I learned a lesson from my mentor, Kristi Fry: People in focus groups and polls don't tell the truth. Instead, look at the numbers, they don't lie. Circulation at any newspaper (and readership on any news site) spikes through the roof not when someone does something nice, but when someone does something horrible, or something horrible just happens.

People vote with their eyes, not their words. On average, this site receives 45,000 viewers each day, which is a phenomenal number, twice as much as the circulation at the newspaper during its heyday, and according to the latest numbers I could find, four times as much as now. But that number pales in comparison to yesterday's numbers. It's less than a tenth, as a matter of fact.

People are interested in those good-news stories. They are. But they're a lot more interested in the stories of horror and trouble. It's human nature. We're not looking to see people decapitated when we slow down to check out a bad wreck, but we are looking just the same - to see ... whatever.

I talked to the shooting victim's mother yesterday and told her I was going to show the entire video on my site. She was OK with it, so I did. But I didn't realize at the time how much attention that would garner. People didn't want to see her son die, they just wanted to see what really happened. Some people saw the video and agreed with the police stand on what happened. Others disagreed. No one, it seems, didn't have an opinion, and that's what's great about a site like this.

Unlike corporate-owned entities, we can do what we believe is in the best interest of the public's right to know. Some can disagree with us, some can agree with us, but none can tell us what to do or not to do. And ultimately, in this case, we believe 500,000 people can't be wrong: posting the entire video, unedited, was the right thing to do. It allowed the public to make up their minds - and the vast majority agreed with the police: the officer who was involved did the right thing, the only thing he could have done. There are, of course, those who disagree, but in our experience, those others make up a prohibitive minority of everyone who watched the video.

We're just glad we could help enable the public to see what most of you believe: that the police are hard-working people who put their lives on the line every day, and even though there may be some bad eggs out there, this wasn't one of those cases. We're glad that people are able to come to their own conclusions on that front, and we're glad we get to be part of the tools by which they come to those conclusions.

Filed under: Local Opinions
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Body cam video of Saturday shooting released

Muskogee Police have released the body cam video of a Muskogee Police officer shooting a man to death after the man had allegedly threatened to kill a woman at a Muskogee wedding.

The video shows the officer questioning Terence Dewayne Walker, 21, Walker tensing up, then abruptly fleeing when the officer feels a gun in Walker's left jacket pocket.

The officer pursues Walker, who stops, stoops to pick something up off the ground, and the officer fires several shots, two of which appear to hit Walker, who was at that point again fleeing. Walker falls to the ground, and the officer, keeping his weapon pointed at Walker, attempts to control the crowd.

Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson said he hoped Muskogee could avoid such incidents in the future.

"We all want our town to be safe," he said. "We want to be able to go to a wedding without people being threatened for their lives. I feel sorry for the family of the man who was shot and for the officer who was forced to shoot him. It's just tragic all the way around. If that officer hadn't been there, somebody else would be dead right now."

WARNING: The video linked below is EXTREMELY graphic. It shows a man dying. Do not view the video if such content might upset you unnecessarily.

If the video above won't play, click the link below:


The video

It's possible the video won't display for you. We're working on adjusting it to display on as many browsers as possible.

The Muskogee Police released the following statement:

Below is a list of considerations that we are presenting along with the video:

  1. Suspect had made threats to kill a wedding party member and came to the location with a loaded handgun.
  2. Witnesses at the scene told police the suspect had conveyed information to the victim that he had a bullet with her name on it.
  3. The suspect had attempted to hand the gun to another person at the scene who refused to take it.
  4. There were witnesses at the scene who told us that the suspect had called or left a voicemail threatening to harm the victim. This is currently under review by O.S.B.I.
  5. The suspect failed to comply with basic commands by the officer to place his hands behind his back and used an elbow to strike the officer. The shadow thrown by the suspect in the footage appears to show the suspect with a raised fist towards the officer.
  6. The area in question is surrounded by homes, a church with several people attending a wedding, and the suspect was running in the direction of an occupied vehicle that was travelling toward the suspect and officer.
  7. The officer reacted to the suspect stopping to pick up an item that we believe the body camera shows was a gun. At this point the suspect posed an immediate threat to the officer and witnesses surrounding the scene. It is our belief that the video clearly shows the suspect pointing the gun at the officer.
  8. Initial indications by some witnesses that the suspect dropped his cell phone are contradicted by the video which shows the suspect placing the cell phone in his left hand and fleeing with it. The video shows that the item dropped and recovered by the suspect at the scene was in the suspect's right hand and appears to be the gun.
  9. The video clearly shows that the gun was recovered in very close proximity to the suspect and shows the hammer cocked and a bullet in the chamber.
  10. If the suspect were to have fired the gun, the bullet would have been fired in the direction of the officer, multiple bystanders, and toward the direction of oncoming traffic and a residential area.
  11. A video released recently by the Flagstaff, AZ Police shows how quickly a suspect can produce a gun from his pocket. In the video the suspect produces a gun during an attempted pat down search by the officer and shoots the officer in the head before he can react. The officer died at the scene. The suspect then disarmed the officer of his sidearm and killed himself.
  12. The suspect made a conscious decision to stop and pick up the gun after having dropped it. The suspect made the decision to re-arm himself and subsequently point the gun in a threatening manner towards the officer.
  13. The officer could not make use of a Taser for two reasons:
    • The suspect was well out of range of the 25 ft. capability of the Taser.
    • Officers are trained to meet a deadly threat with deadly force, the officer would have been placing himself and the public in danger had he deployed his Taser.
  14. Listen to Pastor Jones as he approaches the scene and asks to check on the suspect. The officer clearly says to the pastor to stay back from the suspect because he "has a gun." The officer did not want to put the pastor in danger and did not know the condition of the suspect at the time. The officer was also dealing with a crowd who had come out to observe what had happened.
  15. Pastor Jones witnessed the shooting and can be clearly heard saying to one of the responding officers in reference to what had just taken place "he followed procedure" referring to Officer Mc Millin.

Police also released audio files relating to the shooting:

In response to our questions about the shooting today, Muskogee Police responded with the following:

We believe that the officer involved in Saturday's shooting acted appropriately. The officer responded to a call of a man with a gun threatening to kill his former girlfriend who was inside of Old Agency Baptist Church where dozens of people had gathered for a wedding. The officer attempted to pat down the subject, at which point the suspect attempted to throw an elbow into the officer's face and fled the scene. During the ensuing chase, the suspect dropped a gun and stopped to pick it up. The suspect then, as shown in the video, pointed the gun at the officer. The firearm recovered from under the suspect was cocked and chamber loaded, meaning it was ready to fire.

Officers in the field have to make split-second decisions based on the facts and circumstances they are faced with at the moment. We believe Officer McMillin's actions protected the safety of the public as well as his own life.

10:37 a.m. UPDATE: Response to the video has been mostly positive on social media and around the city.

"This is why every officer needs a body camera," said Brad Worldclass Stahlheber on Facebook. "It gives transparency to both sides. The video is pretty clear. The guy ran, dropped a gun, then went to pick it up while facing the officer The officer was justified. ... The video says it all."

"Shoutout to OK getting on board with body cams," Jeremiah Murray said on Facebook. "Keep 'em accountable."

11:37 a.m. UPDATE: Muskogee Police have released a powerpoint presentation with their breakdown of the incident.

The presentation (pdf format)

Walker's mother, reached at her home in Austin, said she wished there had been some other way to deal with her son during the incident.

"He was my baby," she said. "He wasn't a violent person. I saw them saying he got violent toward the police when he was agitated, but that's not how I knew him."

The police should look for non-lethal ways to deal with people they believe to be carrying guns, as in Walker's case, she said.

"In today's society, we say it was justifiable, but we should have another way of dealing with situations that this would not be the outcome," she said. "If he did have a gun, there should be another way. In old times, the police officer would try to calm the situation down."

Cassandra Walker said she has not seen the video, but her attorney brother has, and described it to her. The family has not decided whether to pursue the event any further.

"I'm not happy with the outcome," she said. "No parent would be."

Her church in Austin will live stream a memorial service over the web so those who knew Walker in Muskogee can see the service without making the seven-hour drive to Austin, she said. The event will take place Saturday at 11 a.m., she said, on livestream.com. Watchers will have to create a login, then search for Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church in Austin, she said.

Filed under: Local Crime Breaking News
This story has been revised 16 times
  • By Leif M. Wright on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 8:56:45 a.m. (VIEW)
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This story has 4 comments
lawman, on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 9:38:58 a.m., said:
My support goes out to the officer and the police department. The suspect should not have been an idiot and should not have done what he did. Muskogeephonenix did an article saying that he was "loving" and "calm". NO WAY. He was probably loving and caring to his own momma and family, but has no respect for others.
savedbygrace, on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 10:32:11 a.m., said:
Think you cut the end of the article off.
Leif M. Wright, on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 10:34:55 a.m., said:
Sometimes, especially when we're posting a written quote from someone, the program that runs MuskogeeNOW will stop in the middle of the quote. That's usually when the person being quoted has inserted a character that can't be interpreted by web browsers. Our program ignores everything after such "illegal" characters. I have fixed the quote in question, and the article should end correctly now.
savedbygrace, on Friday, January 23, 2015 at 10:39:21 a.m., said:
Figured it was just an accident. Wanted to make sure though.

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One shot during armed robbery at Houston and York

Police are working an armed robbery that just happened at the Stop N Go convenience store at Houston and York, according to emergency workers.

Two men escaped on foot, and police are in pursuit.

No word yet on whether the robbers got any money.

Muskogee County EMS is transporting one person in serious and possibly life-threatening condition from a gunshot wound, according to spokeswoman Rebecca Williamson. Williamson could not say whether the gunshot was related to the robbery.

Other emergency workers, however, confirmed that the shooting was related.

We will post details as they become available.

9:17 p.m. UPDATE: The person who was shot was a customer, according to Muskogee Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Mahan. Police are searching for a suspect on foot. The customer apparently was trying to stop the robbery. More details are coming.

10:08 p.m. UPDATE: The suspect is described as a black male, thin build, approximately 5' 8", possibly in his teens. He was wearing dark clothing with a possible Aztec style design. The suspect was armed with a silver, semi-automatic pistol and had his face covered with a rag.

11:06 pm UPDATE: The victim of tonight's armed robbery is in good condition, will be held overnight for observation, according to police

UPDATE: The victim's name is Christopher Stout. He was shot in the torso while trying to prevent the robbery.

Filed under: Local Crime Breaking News
This story has been revised 7 times
  • By Leif M. Wright on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 9:12:40 p.m. (VIEW)
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David Kay to entertain at hall of fame

The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame will host Dave Kay on Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 at 7 pm at The Frisco Depot, 401 S. 3rd in Muskogee.

Born in Muskogee, the Oklahoma based singer/songwriter was exposed to Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix at an early age. Growing up, his older brother, Andy Kay, was always playing in bands as a drummer and percussionist, filling the house with jazz, funk, blues and rock music. Dave would often sneak upstairs and play all the instruments he could get his hands on.

Dave eventually formed his own band, Nepenthe, and began playing as often as possible. But when he kept breaking Andy's cymbals and losing pieces of the set at different shows, Andy inadvertently changed his younger brother's life forever by buying Dave his first acoustic guitar as a Christmas present.

While working one summer, Dave met Thomas Trapp and formed the "Purpletraders", with Bill Morgan on bass and of course Andy on drums. In 2011, they recorded their first album, Westward Bound. From there, Dave helped form his college band, "Supergroup" and also the blues/Americana trio - "The Dave Kay Band", as well as playing solo. Even as a full time teacher at Keys High School, Dave has been playing live shows nonstop for about eight years.

Admission will be $5 and all ages are welcome. Refreshments will be served.

Filed under: Local Entertainment
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Chocolate festival set to raise money for Habitat, tickle your sweet tooth

Get ready for a fun winter event offering Oklahoma wines, gourmet chocolates, and other tasty treats from more than 40 Oklahoma restaurants and business. All proceeds benefit Habitat for Humanity of Muskogee, which has built more than 30 homes in Muskogee.

There will be live entertainment by Reversing Radio. Silent auction with all proceeds from event benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Muskogee.

  • What: Home Sweet Home Chocolate Festival
  • When: February 7, 2015 from 7pm-10pm
  • Where: Muskogee Civic Center, 425 Boston St., Muskogee, OK
  • Admission: Tickets available starting January 1, 2015. $15 in advance before Noon on Friday, February 6, 2015 at American Bank of Oklahoma, Armstrong Bank, Arvest Bank, Bank of Oklahoma, Firstar Bank of Muskogee, Communications Federal, Bancfirst Muskogee, ORS Nasco, Dolce', and Muskogee Habitat Office. Or $20 at the door.
  • Must be 21 to attend
  • For more information contact Muskogee Habitat for Humanity 918-687-1470 or email at muskogeehabitat@gmail.com
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Two injured in car shooting last night, not shot

A black male and female, whose names have not yet been released, were injured last night after their car was shot up, according to Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Mahan.

Police received a shots-fired call around 9:45 p.m. last night, and when officers arrived, they found an abandoned car at 24th and Inman streets. The car's passenger side was riddled with bullet holes.

The couple showed up at the Emergency Room of Eastar Hospital claiming they were injured when the car wrecked. Neither had gunshot wounds.

The couple refused to fill out a statement for police, saying they had no idea who shot at them.

More details to come.

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Stigler teen killed in crash

A 16-year-old Stigler boy died after being ejected during a crash in Haskell County on Monday morning, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.

The boy was driving a 1999 GMC pickup east on Oklahoma 9 one mile east of Whitefield when the pickup crossed the center line and struck the side of a westbound tractor-trailer just before 8 a.m., troopers said.

The truck and pickup came to rest in a ditch, and the teenager was ejected "an unknown number of feet," according to a crash report. He died at the scene, troopers said.

A third vehicle - a 2015 GMC pickup - hit debris in the road and also veered into the ditch, the report states.

A 12-year-old boy in the 1999 pickup had head injuries that were stabilized and was flown to Saint Francis Children's Hospital in Tulsa.

The truck driver, Daniel Williams, 48, of Panama, Oklahoma, and Esbeidy Mendez Castillo, 23, of Stigler, who was driving the 2015 pickup, refused treatment at the scene. Neither of them had any passengers.

Neither the 16-year-old nor the 12-year-old, whose names were not released, were wearing a seat belt, but the other drivers were, according to the crash report.

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Car found riddled with bullets, another on fire

A car riddled with multiple bullet holes has been found at 24th and Inman, according to emergency workers.

The car's driver is missing, but a check of area hospitals has turned up nothing.

Police have not yet found any blood on or near the car.

Also, a burned-out car has been found at the Foxcroft apartments, but no injuries were reported. Someone reportedly was in the car when it caught fire, according to police, but no deaths have been reported.

UPDATE: One man was transported from Foxcroft via Muskogee County EMS to Eastar Hospital with life-threatening injuries, according to EMS spokeswoman Rebecca Williamson. The call was received at 9:34 pm.

UPDATE: An unconscious male was found in the car with smoke inhalation injuries but no burns. The fire marshal was sent to investigate, which we are told indicates initial impressions are that the fire's cause may be suspicious.

UPDATE: We are now hearing from police that two people were transported by EMS. We are trying to verify that now. UPDATE: EMS, upon double-checking, says only one person was transported. It is possible that another person arrived at the emergency room some way other than EMS, Williamson said.

Filed under: Local Crime Breaking News
This story has been revised 7 times
  • By Leif M. Wright on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 10:31:37 p.m. (VIEW)
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EXCLUSIVE: Police officer who shot man had shot another man six months earlier

Muskogee Police have released the identity of the officer who shot 21-year-old Terence Dewayne Walker on Saturday.

The officer, Chansey McMillin, has been a member of the police force since July of 2012, according to Sgt. Michael Mahan.

McMillin is on routine paid administrative leave pending the result of an investigation being led by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Mahan said.

This is the second time in six months that McMillin has shot someone in the line of duty. McMillan shot Angel Cerda twice in the leg when he lunged at another police officer with a knife on July 9 at 30th and Boston.

McMillin was cleared of wrongdoing in that shooting. In fact, then-District Attorney Larry Moore said he should have been commended for using his gun in a non-lethal way.

Here's the link to the story of that shooting.

Filed under: Local Exclusive
This story has been revised 3 times
  • By Leif Wright on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 3:40:19 p.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif Wright on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 5:11:39 p.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif Wright on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 5:21:50 p.m. (VIEW)
This story has 2 comments
lawman, on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 8:52:05 p.m., said:
McMillin will be cleared of this as well. He is a great person and very professional. Yes he shot someone months ago, but it was because of another dumb ass doing dumb things. What wrongdoing was there in that incident Leif? None! He was doing his job. Protect and serve this community. I am grateful to have an officer like this on the street.
Amber, on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 9:39:13 p.m., said:
Leif never said or implied that the first shooting was wrong or this one. He has simply stated facts as they were given to him. He simply stated that the officer was cleared of wrongdoing in the previous case!

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MLK parade draws hundreds of spectators, no trouble

Though organizers and city officials feared the worst after a white police officer shot and killed a black man over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, today's parade honoring the civil rights leader proved his vision is one step closer to reality.

"Such a beautiful day to remember Dr. King," one elderly bystander said as a stranger offered her a picnic chair to sit on instead of a concrete retaining wall. "Beautiful weather, beautiful chair. So happy."

Hundreds - a mix of black, white and Hispanic from all ages - lined Martin Luther King Boulevard from 12th to Third streets to watch dozens of businesses, civic groups and politicians march, drive and toss candy to children, who collected the goodies in pockets, plastic bags and flower pots.

Churches drove in the parade with Christian rap songs blaring. Bikers thundered along after clubs designed to curb underage smoking. In all, the parade turned out to be just what was intended: a community unified to memorialize the peaceful vision of an iconic leader.

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  • By Leif Wright on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 12:46:17 p.m. (VIEW)
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Missing girl may be with family in Haskell, mother says

A 16-year-old Oktaha girl who has been missing since mid-December has allegedly been seen riding horses with a family in Oktaha, her mother said today.

Bailee Brumnett, who is five-foot, five inches tall and has a "tiny" build, disappeared on the morning of Dec. 14 or 15, her mother said, and is believed to have left the home voluntarily.

"She had left for a day a few weeks before that," Amber McKinley, her mother, said. "We found her with a boy - apparently not a boyfriend - in Haskell. His father and family were letting her stay there. Supposedly, his father had come and gotten her."

Oklahoma law allows for prosecution of those who knowingly harbor an underage person designated as missing or runaway.

"Yesterday, one of the neighbors in Haskell saw a girl matching Bailee's description riding horses on that family's land," McKinley said. "Anyone who is knowingly keeping her could be charged with kidnapping."

McKinley contacted the Muskogee County Sheriff's Office, which has jurisdiction over both Oktaha and Haskell, but she said they suggested she post signs around the area. The sheriff's office has not returned a call for comment.

"To tell the truth, the Texas authorities and center for missing children have helped out more than anything."

Texas authorities were contacted when Bailee's picture appeared on a sex trafficking web site in Corpus Christi, but the authorities there determined the photo had been simply a screen shot from her Facebook page.

Anyone who has seen Bailee or has information about her whereabouts is urged to call 918-500-2864 or 918-616-0760.

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UPDATE: Racer who visited Muskogee school wins

The racer who visited Muskogee's Sadler Arts Academy to speak to the children about how little people can do anything they want won a big race in Tulsa over the weekend.

Rico Abreu won the 2015 Chili Bowl in Tulsa on Saturday night after visiting Muskogee's arts academy to help students understand a fellow little person, Isaiah Zardeneta.

"I just tried to stay as patient as I could," Abreu said about the race. "You know the race is not a long race, but it is a long race. When the time was right, I pulled the trigger and gave (then-leader Bryan Clauson) a slide job."

Abreu, who won "the Super Bowl" of races in his class, said the sheer size of the crowd was daunting.

"You come into this building with over 300 race cars and, you know, 30,000 people," he said. "I don't how many people they fit in here, but it was damn near a lot."

Filed under: Local Good News Sports
This story has been revised 2 times
  • By Leif Wright on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 9:32:27 a.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif Wright on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 9:53:58 a.m. (VIEW)
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Witness: Police justified in shooting man

Editor's note: In this story, we identify a witness as a black man. Normally, we don't care what race someone is, but in this case, since race is an issue of contention, we wanted to be clear about this witness's race.

A witness who was at the wedding yesterday spoke exclusively to MuskogeeNOW.com just now. This witness is a longtime acquaintance of Leif Wright, but asked to not be identified in the story. We are honoring that request, but the witness has been verified as an attendee at the wedding and in a position to know the facts delineated below.

The following is an account, verbatim, from a witness who not only was at the wedding where a man was fatally shot by police, but was on the front line and saw the entire event unfold:

Terence Walker was a student at Bacone, and he was dating Regina Hooks. After he left Bacone, he stayed around here, but then over Christmas, he decided to go home and they broke up. But he didn't want to let her go.

When he left, his car had broke down, so he left it at her house. He got a ride back here to get his car, and when he came back, he found some love notes where she had been communicating with another gentleman.

Last week, he bought a gun and he told her it was to kill her. He said "there's one bullet in the chamber" and that was for her.

She came to me and said Terence was trying to kill her. I told her not to worry, he didn't even have a gun. But she said "he bought it yesterday and showed me."

At that point, I said "we need to talk to the police." I also told her if he called or texted her, she needed to save it to show the police. He called her while we were talking, so she put it on speaker so we could all listen. He threatened her, and she said she was at a wedding with a hundred other people. He said he didn't care who she was with, he was for real and he was going to take care of business.

He said "you come outside and you'll see."

By that time, I had called the police. He was out in the parking lot showing people the letters he had found and telling them she thought he was playing, but she would see. At that point, he saw the police and someone said "they're here to talk to you."

He asked a lady standing nearby if she would hold his gun until he got done talking to the police. She refused.

When he was talking to the police, because they had been told he was carrying a gun, they asked if he had a weapon and he said no. They told him to put his hands behind his back, and then they were patting him down and felt the gun in his left pocket.

The officer's voice changed right then and he told him to put his hands behind his back, but Terence jerked away and took out running. The police were pursuing and called for backup. I believe his cell phone was in his right pocket and the gun was in his left. I saw something drop out, and I assumed it was his cell phone.

He reached down, picked it up and turned toward the officer, and that's when the officer fired the shot that hit him in the chest and brought him to the ground.

We asked the witness if he thought the shooting was justified.

"You know me, I'm no fan of the police," he said. "But in this case, they were justified."

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Police, city, black leaders declare unity

Muskogee city leaders, police representatives and black ministers gathered together on the eve of the holiday celebrating civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to declare that they were in unity for the community to stay peaceful after yesterday's fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer.

"We don't want a repeat of Ferguson (Missouri)," one minister said outside the MLK Center. "Right now, we will watch this the way Dr. King did. If it turns out the shooting happened some way other than (the police) say, we will deal with it the way Malcolm (X) did."

Police say the man who was shot was fleeing custody when he stopped to pick up an object the police officer believed to be a gun. After he was killed, police say they found a loaded pistol in close proximity to his body.

MuskogeeNOW has already requested the police officer's body camera video.

Here is a bystander video from moments after the suspect was shot. WARNING: Graphic images of a man's body and graphic language. This video is NOT safe for work:

Filed under: Local Crime
This story has been revised 1 time
  • By Leif Wright on Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 4:26:49 p.m. (VIEW)
This story has 1 comment
savedbygrace, on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 10:31:29 a.m., said:
I love how the videographer keeps saying "He had a gun but...still he shot him for no reason!".

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One dead in police-involved shooting

Muskogee Police have shot a suspect who was fleeing from a funeral* wedding, emergency workers have confirmed.

A black male is hurt, possibly dead.

A funeral* wedding at 24th and Military Blvd erupted in gunfire, according to an emergency worker. After police responded, several subjects fled, leading to a foot chase, during which an officer reported shots fired and a suspect was wounded or killed.

The shooting was reported at 3:54 p.m..

At this time, there is no more information. We will report when there is.

UPDATE: Muskogee Police Sergeant Michael Mahan has confirmed that it was an officer-involved shooting at Old Agency Baptist Church.

The subject that was shot was in possession of a loaded firearm, Mahan said. He could not confirm whether the subject was dead or alive.

UPDATE 5:29 p.m.: Rebecca Williamson of Muskogee County EMS has confirmed the man who was shot by police is dead.

UPDATE 6:03 p.m.: Eastar Hospital is on lockdown, according to authorities, to prevent further violence.

UPDATE 6:33 p.m.: According to a witness who was at the scene, the shooting occurred in the parking lot at a wedding, not at a funeral.

UPDATE 8:15 p.m.: Muskogee authorities are urging citizens to remain calm and wait for the details of the shooting to become clear. Here is a statement released by the city's spokeswoman, Kimbra Scott:

With regards to the shooting today in Muskogee, Ok. local clergy are making a very conscious effort to work alongside law-enforcement to be certain that a thorough investigation is done and that all of the facts prevail ahead of any miss judgment towards police or any of the parties involved at this time. As clergy and leaders of the community come together they are asking all residents to remain calm while the investigation continues. They are attempting to hold a press conference, Sunday, January 18 at 3 p.m., Martin Luther King. Jr. Community Center in Muskogee to reinforce a position of unity at this time and remind everyone to remain calm and not rush to conclusions. This Martin Luther King Jr. weekend is about peace and unity and will not be used as an opportunity to protest, but as an opportunity to bring our community together.

This statement is from Marlon Coleman, Reverend of Antioch Church of Muskogee and Muskogee City Councilor.

UPDATE 9:01 p.m.: Muskogee Police have released the name of the suspect who was killed. Terence Dewayne Walker, 21, was shot and killed. More details are coming.

UPDATE 9:40 p.m.: A witness on the scene said Walker was running from the police after they were attempting to handcuff him. Walker then bent over to pick up what witnesses say they believe was a phone and what police say they believed was a gun, which led to him being shot. Police say a loaded gun was found in close proximity to his body.

UPDATE 9:44 p.m.: Muskogee Police Sgt. Michael Mahan released the following information:

On 1-17-15 at approximately 3:45 p.m. Muskogee Police responded to a call of a disturbance at Old Agency Baptist Church located at 1115 North 24th. The caller advised police that a male suspect had called a female who was inside the church attending a wedding and made verbal threats. The caller said that the male made threats to kill the female and said that he was armed with a gun.

A Muskogee Police Officer arrived on scene and made contact with the male suspect who was outside of the church. The officer began to interview the suspect and performed a pat down search of the suspect since the caller indicated that the suspect was armed. As the officer was checking the suspect, the suspect broke away from the officer and ran. The officer then gave chase.

At some point the suspect dropped an item and stopped and began to pick up the item while facing toward the officer. The officer then fired on the suspect. A loaded semi automatic handgun was found in close proximity to the suspect. A witness at the scene also told officers that just prior to the shooting the suspect had attempted to hand the gun to her in an attempt to conceal the weapon from the officer but the witness refused to take the gun.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is currently investigating the shooting and any questions concerning the investigation should be directed to them. The suspect died at the scene and has been identified as Terence D. Walker (date of birth 11-15-93)

*The word "funeral" is now struck through because a reader was saying it made the story inaccurate, even though it was corrected in the text of the story later on.

Filed under: Local Crime Breaking News Sad Exclusive
This story has been revised 14 times
  • By Leif Wright on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 5:04:21 p.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif Wright on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 5:04:54 p.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif Wright on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 5:29:35 p.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif Wright on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 5:31:13 p.m. (VIEW)
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  • By Leif Wright on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 6:36:14 p.m. (VIEW)
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  • By Leif Wright on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 8:38:13 p.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif Wright on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 8:44:37 p.m. (VIEW)
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  • By Leif Wright on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 9:41:50 p.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif Wright on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 9:42:22 p.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif Wright on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 9:47:22 p.m. (VIEW)
  • By Leif Wright on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 9:56:31 a.m. (VIEW)
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MLK Weekend events set for unity

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade Committee has selected its grand marshals for this year's parade and has released its schedule of upcoming MLK events.

The 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and events will be conducted on Jan. 19. This year's theme is "The Color Of Unity."

Local Community Educator Dr. Virginia Schoats has been selected as the grand marshal of the upcoming parade. Dr. Schoats has been selected as parade marshal for her achievements and commitments to the city of Muskogee and Langston University.

The Martin Luther King Holiday will be filled with actives for the entire family. The events for the king holiday included the following:

Muskogee Pancake Breakfast- 8:30AM - 11:00A.M.- Martin Luther King Center

MLK Day Unity Parade. Parade Route- Martin Luther King Street starting at North 12th Street, ending on North 3rd Street at the Martin Luther King Center. No Entry Fee, Just line up on North 11st at 11 A.M. Parade start time is noon.

Fifth Annual Car Show to be held in the Parking Lot of the Martin Luther King Center at the end of the parade.

Trophies will be awarded to best cars in the show.

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Pro racer talks to Sadler kids about diversity

If you read Rico Abreu's resume, you're likely to be impressed - 22 years old, already a top race car driver.

But Abreu wasn't at Muskogee's Sadler Arts Academy to talk to first-graders about racing, although he got plenty of that in. Instead, Abreu, a little person, was there to encourage kids that they can do whatever they want, no matter what they're facing.

"I'm all done growing," he said. "But when I'm in a race car, I'm the same size as everyone else. No matter how you're different, you can accomplish whatever you want."

The first graders appeared to want to know more about crashing than anything. Well, almost anything.

"Can you do a backflip?" one girl asked, sending the entire classroom into giggles.

"No," Abreu responded. "Can you?"

The girl shook her head.

Abreu was there also to help the first-graders better understand one of their classmates, Isaiah Zardeneta, who is also a little person.

"Midget is a hurtful word," Abreu said. "We are little people, but 'midget' means bug, and we're not that."

"You'd have six legs if you were," one student offered.

"Yeah, and I only have two," Abreu said, laughing.

Zardeneta will be Abreu's guest at the Chili Bowl race this Saturday, and he promised to tell the class how the race goes.

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Cherokees announce new funding for major expansion of WW Hastings Hospital

The Cherokee Nation has announced a major partnership with Indian Health Service this morning, furthering the tribe's commitment to providing the highest quality health care to Cherokees and all Native Americans in northeast Oklahoma. The partnership with IHS will add millions to the tribe's planned expansion of the W.W. Hastings Medical Campus.

"This will go down as one of the greatest days in the history of the modern Cherokee Nation," said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. "Our partnership with IHS will improve the health outcomes of Cherokees for the next two to three generations and beyond. It's a proud, proud day in the Cherokee Nation."

Less than two years ago, the Cherokee Nation unveiled a plan to invest $100 million in casino profits into new construction or expansion of four health centers and a new medical campus at W.W. Hastings Hospital. New or expanded Cherokee Nation health centers in Sallisaw, Stilwell, Jay and Ochelata are all scheduled to open by late spring.

IHS announced in a blog post on Tuesday that seven finalists out of 37 applicant tribes had been selected for Joint Venture Construction Project agreements with the agency. The Cherokee Nation was notified late last year it was in consideration for the final round.

Joint Venture Construction Project agreements with IHS allow tribes that commit to building health care infrastructure to receive millions in federal funding

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  • By Leif Wright on Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 9:47:33 a.m. (VIEW)
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New MLK Center to break ground today

The City of Muskogee will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center at 4:30 p.m., today.

The need for a new Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center was identified through organizers and participants of the Action in Muskogee initiative as a priority project. It also serves as the north anchor of downtown revitalization plans.

The new 18,000-square-foot community center, which includes three classrooms, a multimedia resource room, library and full-service kitchen plus several meeting rooms, will house after-school programs, Night Hoops and Summer Youth Feeding Programs. This $4.5 million center will allow these programs to expand and grow to better serve the needs of our community.

The City of Muskogee Foundation voted and approved a grant in the amount of $2.75 million for the construction of the center.

Voters approved a five-year sales tax extension that includes an additional $1.5 million for the community center. Private donations total more than $400,000 and those fundraising efforts continue. The Nonprofit Resource Center has been instrumental in the fundraising efforts for the Center. They will continue to champion those efforts through pursuing additional grants.

The groundbreaking ceremony is at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, January 15 at 627 Xernona Clayton Way (North 3rd Street).

Speakers include: Mayor Bob Coburn; Reverend Marlon Coleman, City Councilman; Derrick Reed, Director of the MLK, Jr. Community Center Ms. Xernona Clayton, Civil Rights Activist and Representatives from Ambler Architects and Flintco Construction.

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