More details emerge in fatal shooting of Okla. deputy
Deputy David Wade went to serve an eviction notice, but the alleged shooter wasn't the person being evicted
By Silas Allen
MULHALL, Okla. — Not long ago, Logan County Sheriff Damon Devereaux told his wife there was one thing he feared more than anything else in the job: losing one of his own deputies in the line of duty.
On Tuesday, it happened.
A man shot a Logan County sheriff's deputy helping serve an eviction notice Tuesday morning before speeding away in the deputy's patrol pickup as officers returned fire, authorities said.
Minutes later, the gunman stopped at a convenience store just west of Langston, where he stole a car at gunpoint and drove southwest on State Highway 33, toward Guthrie. Law officers would comb the area for hours before taking the suspect — Nathan Aaron Leforce, 45, of Perry — into custody shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Deputy David Wade, 40, was taken by helicopter to OU Medical Center with gunshot wounds to his face and body. Wade went into cardiac arrest, but doctors were able to revive him long enough to get him into surgery. Wade died at 11:51 a.m. on the operating table, Devereaux said.
"This is my first experience with this, and it's hard on all of us," Devereaux said.
The shooting occurred about 9 a.m. Tuesday. Hours later, officers from the sheriff's department, as well as the Oklahoma County sheriff's office, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation swarmed an area about five miles west of Langston between Midwest Boulevard and Post Road between east-west county roads 77 and 76 as police helicopters buzzed overhead.
At a news conference about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Devereaux said the Oklahoma Highway Patrol had taken Leforce, who has a long criminal history in Noble County, into custody.
Sgt. Greg Valencia, a spokesman for the Logan County sheriff's office, said officers found Leforce hiding in an outbuilding at 4250 Jaxton Road, about seven miles southwest of Langston. Officers threw four gas grenades inside before storming the building, Valencia said.
Officers located Leforce by tracking the use of a cellphone, said Lt. John Vincent, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokesman. Leforce surrendered without resistance, Vincent said.
Devereaux said it was unclear what precipitated the shooting. Wade, a three-year veteran with the sheriff's department, had gone to the home in a rural area between Interstate 35 and Mulhall, to serve an eviction notice. But Devereaux said Leforce wasn't the person being evicted.
After shooting Wade, authorities say Leforce drove the deputy's patrol pickup to Smitty's One Stop, a convenience store at State Highway 33 and Henney Road, just west of Langston.
A worker at the convenience store said video surveillance showed Leforce trying to break into a car in the store's parking lot before he stole a woman's car at gunpoint. Worker Bashir Ahmed was inside when the woman's car was stolen.
"I was so busy with customers until she came in I didn't know what happened," Ahmed said.
Langston University and the Coyle and Mulhall-Orlando school districts went on lockdown during the manhunt. Mautra Jones, Langston's vice president of institutional advancement and external affairs, said university officials locked the campus down as a precaution because the incident took place relatively close by. Smitty's One Stop is about a mile and a half west of the university's north entrance.
Leforce's criminal past
In 2001, Leforce pleaded no contest to use of a firearm during the commission of a felony and eluding an officer, records show. At the time, officers said they suspected the incident was an attempted "suicide-by-cop." He was ordered to four years probation.
In that incident, police said Leforce drove at speeds greater than 90 mph, looking for an officer to provoke into a pursuit. When an officer gave chase, Leforce led the officer to the cemetery where his father was buried, where he climbed out of the car and pointed an AR-15 rifle at the officer.
The officer ordered Leforce to drop his gun. When he refused, the officer fired at the car, blowing out a tire. Leforce sped away, and the officer lost him in a cloud of dust. Stillwater police later found the car abandoned at a farm house and LeForce was taken into custody several hours later as he walked along a road. Police found the rifle about a quarter-mile from the farmhouse.
He also pleaded no contest in 2007 to obstructing an officer. He was ordered to a year in the Noble County jail, records show.
In 2010, Leforce was charged in a bogus check case. That case was later dismissed after he paid restitution.
In 2015, he was charged with kidnapping, child endangerment and domestic abuse. That case was dismissed in 2016. The victim told police Leforce had bragged about his associations with the Irish Mob and the Universal Aryan Brotherhood, two gangs active in the Oklahoma state prison system.
In August, authorities charged him with harboring a runaway child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. That case also was dismissed “in the interest of justice,” records show.
'A blow for the county'
During a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Devereaux, the Logan County sheriff, said Wade's death is a blow for the county. Wade leaves a wife and three children, one of whom is in the U.S. Marine Corps. Devereaux said he'd already received a deluge of texts and Facebook messages from residents upset about the deputy's death.
A visibly emotional Devereaux recalled a recent conversation he'd had with his wife about the dangers that professional law enforcement officers face. Devereaux told his wife that his worst fear was having to bury one of his own deputies.
"It looks like it came to fruition, sadly enough," Devereaux said.
Devereaux praised Wade for his bravery, noting that the deputy, a U.S. Army veteran, was able to return fire even after being shot several times.
"Deputy Wade lived like a warrior and died like one," Devereaux said. "He gave his life serving his community, and I don't think you can have a bigger honor than that."
Contributing: Staff Writers Robert Medley, Kyle Schwab, Matt Dinger, Juliana Keeping and Josh Dulaney
©2017 The Oklahoman