TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A man sped through three counties in the night while firing randomly from his pickup truck, hitting at least four vehicles and killing two people on an Oklahoma interstate, police said. A man authorities said was the only person being investigated surrendered early Thursday and was being held in jail.
Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples said reports came in at about 11:50 p.m. Wednesday of a man firing at vehicles on Interstate 40 in Canadian County, which is adjacent to Oklahoma City. The man apparently continued driving west, firing at vehicles as he drove fast and erratically, the sheriff said.
“He shot so many vehicles that it would have been totally impractical to assume he knew them,” Peoples said, describing the case as a suspected road rage incident.
A man was fatally shot in the Caddo County town of Hydro and a woman was killed 10 miles away in Weatherford, authorities said. In both cases, the drivers were able to pull over to the shoulder of the road after the shooting, Peoples said.
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The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation identified the first victim as 45-year-old Jeffrey Kent Powell of Arapaho. He was traveling with his wife, who was not struck. The agency identified the second victim as 63-year-old Billie Jean West of Lone Wolf.
The suspected shooter surrendered after a 25-mile chase shortly before 1 a.m. Thursday in Custer County, Peoples said.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said the man being held, Jeremy Doss Hardy, and his vehicle are the ones described by victims and witnesses as the suspect vehicle involved in the shootings. Hardy, 36, of Pasadena, Texas, is jailed in Custer County on a preliminary complaint of driving under the influence.
Hardy “is our only person we’re investigating at this point” for the shootings, Brown said. OSBI investigators are preparing an affidavit that will be submitted to the district attorney, she said, with formal charges possible Friday.
A message left at a Texas phone number listed for Hardy was not immediately returned Thursday.
Peoples said Thursday that authorities had not yet interviewed Hardy to determine a motive, but they don’t suspect anyone was specifically targeted.
At least two other vehicles were hit by gunfire but those drivers escaped injury, Brown said.
Powell, one of the victims, operated FirstCare Rehabilitation, Inc., in Clinton along with his wife. His biography on the business website says Powell coached youth sports and enjoyed golfing, hunting and traveling. He also was a general aviation pilot, according to the website, and was known to his friends as Kent.
Julie Menge, president of the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, called Powell’s death “a big loss for the city of Clinton and the surrounding communities.”
“Kent was bigger than life,” Menge said in a telephone interview. “I don’t remember ever seeing Kent without a big smile on his face. In everything he did, he was always smiling.
“Just a great, happy guy; great family man,” she said.
Bleed reported from Little Rock, Arkansas. Associated Press news researcher Barbara Sambriski and reporter Sean Murphy contributed to this report.