Homicide probe ongoing

shootA Konawa man was shot and killed late Wednesday night near Sacred Heart Church, and Pottawatomie County sheriff’s deputies have arrested a suspect on a complaint of first-degree murder.

Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Capt. Travis Palmer said William Jeff Rutherford, 34, died after suffering a gunshot wound to the chest.

Arrested and booked into the Pottawatomie County Public Safety Center without bond was Richard Brazell, 32, Konawa, Palmer said. Formal charges have not been filed; Brazell’s next court appearance is scheduled July 23.

Palmer said the 911 center received a call about 9:31 p.m. regarding a shooting at a location west of Sacred Heart Church, located about nine miles east of Asher in southern Pottawatomie County.

Rutherford and a witness, whose name has not been released, were at the scene, with the witness reporting the alleged suspect had left the area. Another 911 call a short time later came from Brazell, Palmer said, advising he had been involved in a shooting.

Sheriff’s deputies and Konawa EMS responded to the area and paramedics transported Rutherford to Valley View Regional Hospital in Ada, Palmer said, where he was dead upon arrival.

Investigator Mike Carnell probed the shooting overnight and interviewed Brazell, who was arrested. While the homicide investigation is ongoing and witnesses were still being interviewed Thursday, Palmer said the shooting appeared to stem from a verbal altercation involving Rutherford’s ex-girlfriend, who is now reportedly dating Brazell.

Palmer said Brazell and the woman were in one vehicle and Rutherford and the witness were in another vehicle when their vehicles met on Sacred Heart Road, which is NS 348.

Palmer said the preliminary investigation indicates Rutherford allegedly began flashing headlights at Brazell’s vehicle and Brazell pulled off the road.

A verbal confrontation occurred first between the woman and Rutherford at his vehicle, Palmer said, then allegedly between the victim and suspect. Palmer said Rutherford allegedly approached Brazell, who was still in his vehicle, and Brazell allegedly raised a .22 rifle and fired one round, striking Rutherford in the chest.

After that, there was reportedly a fight over the rifle between the male witness and Brazell, at which time six rounds were discharged from the same rifle, the sheriff’s captain said.

Details and evidence were being gathered Thursday. Palmer said the sheriff’s office will complete its probe and turn the case file over to the district attorney’s office for consideration of formal charges.

According to Cherokee Ballard, spokeswoman for the state medical examiner’s office, an autopsy Thursday afternoon showed Rutherford died from a single gunshot wound to the torso; manner of death was listed as homicide.

Sheriff’s deputies Matt Flores, Eric Fletcher and Chris Ayers worked with Carnell at the scene and the sheriff’s office was assisted in the overnight probe by Asher police, Seminole County sheriff’s deputies and Konawa police, Palmer said.shoot