NORMAN — An old, eclectic neighborhood in central Norman is the scene of a second shooting in less than a month.
Neighbors say they love the historic enclave, but some are starting to fear for their safety after another woman was shot under the cover of darkness.
Lisa Nardine, 40, was found in a white pickup straddling the intersection of Peters Avenue and Johnson Street late Tuesday night with a gunshot wound to the neck. Less than a month earlier, 57-year-old Mary Ellyn Benavidez was shot to death in a home only three blocks away.
Nardine, who was released from the hospital Wednesday at noon, lived in the neighborhood, neighbors say. Police say they are focused on a suspect but no arrests have been made.
Local residents, many of whom did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals, said the suspect in Nardine's shooting is a woman and that they believe she lives in a house that was searched by Norman police Wednesday afternoon.
Norman police Capt. Tom Easley said that police expect to make an arrest in the next two days but wouldn't release further information about a suspect.
The house that was searched Wednesday is a frequent destination for Norman police. Since 2011, police have been to the residence 17 times on several complaints.
And Nardine, the victim, has been arrested for and charged with several felonies since 2010, including drug and forgery charges.
‘One of the oldest'
Easley said the neighborhood, which he described as “one of the oldest in Norman,” suffers from the same problems as others in Oklahoma's third-largest city.
“With that in mind, you have lower-income residents living in the area ... because the houses are not ... modern,” Easley said. “We do experience generally more calls for service in these particular areas in town but by no means is it comparable to the number of calls that we get, say, down on Campus Corner on a Saturday night.”
Easley said Tuesday night's shooting had nothing to do with Benavidez's slaying, about three blocks northwest of where Nardine was shot in the neck.
“There is no gang warfare or anything like that occurring — at all,” Easley said. “It's as much coincidence that it's in the same general area as anything else. I'm not going to put the residents that live in that area down. It is what it is.”
Some local residents disagree with Easley's assertion that nothing is going on in the area.
Lonnie Crego lives in a large historic home near the scene of Tuesday night's shooting. He said he's had several items stolen from his property since moving in, including fishing equipment.
Crego said vandals also recently threw a metal ornament through his RV's window.
“A lot rumors circulate about that place,” Crego said of the house that was searched Wednesday. “Lot of traffic ... lot of people arguing and fighting in the front yard. Lots of cool, entertaining stuff.”
Crego and his family were watching TV when the shots were fired Tuesday night. He said he thought it “was a firecracker.”
“Not even a minute later, somebody just started blaring on the horn,” he said. “We came out and saw that white truck out in the intersection, just blaring on the horn. We saw a guy, I guess he was trying to help her, he was leaning in the window.”
Crego said police arrived within “a minute” and ordered the man to the ground with guns drawn.
Crego said Nardine told police that she was driving around “looking for money that people owed her” when she was shot.
“That's what she was telling police,” he said. “I think that says a lot about what was going on at that house.”
Crego's wife said she had nightmares Tuesday night “because of all this craziness.”
“I don't like it,” she said. “I had a dream my son got shot.”
Crego, who has lived in the neighborhood for only six months, said all the recent gunplay hasn't changed his perception of the area.
“It's a great neighborhood, all except for the negative influences,” Crego said. “But you find that in a lot of places in Norman, so we will keep an eye on things.”
Despite being one of the state's largest cities, homicides and shootings in Norman are rare. In 2012, there has only been one homicide reported to Norman police.