An African-American police chief from Sentinel, Okla., was shot four times, but his assailant, a White “survivalist” has not been arrested.
Police Chief Louis Ross entered the home of Dallas Horton around 6 a.m. Dec. 15 while investigating a bomb threat to a nearby school and was shot three times in the chest and once in the arm by the alleged suspect. Ross had just borrowed a bulletproof vest from another officer, which is credited with saving his life, according to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations (OSBI).
“We almost lost a good man,” Sentinel Mayor Sam Dlugonski told local CNN affiliate KFOR.
According to authorities, the Washita County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call around 4 a.m. in which the caller, who identified himself as Horton, said he had placed a bomb at the nearby Head Start school.
The bomb squad investigated and determined there was no explosive device at the school, so Ross and his deputies went to the alleged suspect’s home in the 200 block S. 4th. St. When no one answered their summons, authorities said they forcefully entered the domicile.
“They made entry, cleared the first bedroom, started to clear the second bedroom, he opened fire on police and shot our chief three times in the chest and once in the arm,” Dlugonski told KFOR.
The OSBI determined Horton should not be arrested, however.
“The man who shot and wounded the Sentinel police chief will not be arrested at this time,” the OSBI said in a statement Jan. 15. “The man was taken into investigative detention this morning after the shooting. For the past several hours, OSBI investigators have extensively interviewed the man. Facts surrounding the case lead agents to believe the man was unaware it was officers who made entry.”
Ross expressed skepticism of that claim.
“Don’t know what he heard or didn’t hear screaming from five officers of the law announcing our presence, requesting to see hands,” Ross told News9.
Others said Horton’s reaction was understandable.
“He thought he was protecting his home and his wife. He didn’t know what was going on until the door was busted down. And you have a right to protect your family and that’s what he was doing,” a relative of Norton said.
OSBI said no explosives were found at Horton’s house and they further determined the 911 call did not originate at his house. The 29-year-old is “fully cooperating with the on-going investigation,” they said.
Sentinel is a small town of about 900 residents, located about 100 miles from Oklahoma City.