01/17/2017 OWASSO – For nearly 20 years, the jobs I have held included a police scanner running quietly in the background of my office and home. Most days it is a lot of the same; traffic accidents, shoplifting calls, domestic calls, loud music, dogs barking, etc…
But then there’s a day when that normal traffic call turns into something else. I heard this entire call as it happened.
On November 14, 2016, Owasso Police Officer Jarod Mitchell, was patrolling the German Corner area of Owasso just before 1:30am and happened upon a vehicle traveling approximately 94MPH in a 40MPH zone. He then attempted to make a traffic stop on the vehicle, which failed to yield, and continued at an extremely high rate of speed towards US Highway 169 along 116th Street North from Garnett Road.
Officer Mitchell gave chase eastbound, passing US Highway 169 and continuing Highway 20 towards Claremore. The suspect continued East on Highway 20 at the same high rate of speed.
I listened as Officer Mitchell calmly reported chase speed, his location and direction of travel to the dispatcher. As the chase neared Looking Glass Valley, the suspect opened fire on Officer Mitchell with a handgun through the driver’s side door window. In the same calm voice, he reported, “Now he is shooting at me.”
Officer Mitchell continued following the suspect eastbound, with sporadic gunfire continuing at the officer between 14500 East and 19300 East on Highway 20. Officer Mitchell continued the pursuit down Keetonville Hill, across the Verdigris River and into Claremore, where Claremore Police and Rogers county Deputies were fired upon by the suspect at a roadblock that was set up near Highway 20 and Clubhouse Road.
The suspect continued on Highway 20 in Claremore and onto railroad tracks within the business district of that community. The suspect eventually crashed and fled on foot. A perimeter was set up around 600 West Will Rogers Blvd involving Owasso Police Officers and K9, Claremore Police and Rogers County Deputies. The suspect was eventually cornered and taken into custody without further violence.
A .45 caliber believed to be the weapon used to fire at officers was recovered. .45 shell casings were recovered along the route of the pursuit in the area where the officers took fire from the suspect. No officers were injured during the events that night. Listening to the call on the scanner, that seems like a miracle.
At Tuesday night’s Owasso City Council meeting, Owasso Police Chief Scott Chambliss, awarded Mitchell with the Medal of Valor for his bravery that night, one of the highest honors that is awarded at the department.
The happenings that night were not a one man show. Others were honored for their teamwork for the apprehension of the suspect.
In addition to Officer Mitchell receiving the Medal of Valor, the other staff receiving a Unit Citation Award were:
- Lt Darryl Jones
- Sgt Robert Funk
- Patrol Officers; Lloyd Hudson, Paul Newman, Josh Pappalardo, Andy Eubanks, James Clutter and Nicholas Munson
- Communications Officers; Myretta Ballou, Mary Dean
Some of these officers were recognized for joining Mitchell in the pursuit itself, going to Claremore and engaging in the search for and apprehension of the suspect. Others for their investigative work conducted between the time the pursuit was initiated and the time the suspect was taken into custody. Of note is that prior to the suspect even being taken into custody, the officers that did not initially engage in the vehicular pursuit, had already obtained the name of the suspect, identified his address and spoken to family members, all while officers were engaged in searching for the suspect. Others collected evidence from surveillance cameras along the route of the pursuit, collected spent shell casings from the roadway and a lot of other legwork all before the incident was over.
Communications Officers, whose jobs I believe are often overlooked by the public, had to deal with the madness of such an incident, coordinating the response of several different agencies during the event, all while continuing to do their normal routine of answering 911 calls, answering additional telephone calls for service, dealing with the Municipal Jail, dispatching additional police and fire calls for service, etc…
The introduction of critical incidents into the normal ebb and flow of the routine work of our Communications and Patrol staff is nothing new, and has too become rather routine. However, the scale of this particular incident, the danger levels involved coupled with the physical and emotional impact such incidents have on our emergency responders, is noteworthy in this case.
Protecting you, the citizens of Owasso, is the job they signed up for. It is often a thankless one, especially when they risk their own lives daily protect yours.
We salute you OPD… everyday.