TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A trucker who was driving on an Oklahoma interstate where two people were fatally shot said his tractor-trailer was struck by bullets, with one round narrowly missing him.
Josh Morris of Weatherford was making his second 80-mile run of the night late Wednesday and into early Thursday when he said a pickup sped past him twice on Interstate 40 in a 10-minute span. As the pickup passed a second time, Morris thought a rock hit his cab — but pulled over and discovered it was a bullet. The round lodged in a metal plate inside the door.
“I heard a ‘thunk’ on the side of my door and he whizzed on by and went a distance,” Morris told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Friday. “At that time, I didn’t know how fortunate I was. I call it an ‘Oh, Jesus,’ moment.”
Police took someone into custody shortly before 1 a.m. Thursday.
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The man authorities have said is their sole suspect in the shootings, 36-year-old Jeremy Doss Hardy of Pasadena, Texas, is jailed in Custer County on a preliminary complaint of driving under the influence. Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples says Hardy is due to be arraigned on the DUI charge Friday afternoon.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said Thursday that Hardy is the “only person” being investigated for the shootings and more charges are likely. Jessica Brown, a spokeswoman for the OSBI, said agents expected to submit an affidavit to prosecutors Friday.
“With the scope of this investigation, it takes a lot of time to put all the information together,” Brown said. “We have many different crime scenes; it’s a massive undertaking.”
The two people killed were 45-year-old Jeffrey Kent Powell of Arapaho and 63-year-old Billie Jean West of Lone Wolf. Powell was fatally shot in the Caddo County town of Hydro; West was killed 10 miles away in Weatherford. At least four other vehicles were struck by gunfire.
Hardy’s father, Robert Hardy, told The Oklahoman newspaper that his son’s arrest was a surprise because “that seems so not him” and suggested that police may have arrested the wrong man in the shootings.
“It’s definitely not the way he was taught or the way he’s always been,” Robert Hardy told the newspaper. “Weren’t there a lot of black four-door pickups on the road? … That’s a pretty common vehicle for this part of the country. I’m praying that that’s not something he’s capable of doing.”
Calls seeking comment to a Texas phone number listed for Robert Hardy rang unanswered Friday.
Morris said when the pickup passed him for the first time, it caught his attention because it had its brights on and was moving fast. He said the truck passed him and went on a ways, but Morris saw the truck again pulled over way off the road in the grass.
He said he then saw the truck coming up on him again with its bright lights on, and that’s when he heard what he initially thought was the rock. Inspecting his truck, Morris — who marked his 34th birthday Thursday — discovered a bullet lodged in the cab door and three more bullet holes in the side of the trailer.
“Somebody was watching over me,” Morris said.