MUSTANG — Nichols Hills Fire Chief Keith Bryan died after a shooting late Tuesday at his home in Mustang, officials said.
Bryan's wife, Becky, called 911 on a cellphone from their home in the 1300 block of W Rose Hill Drive about 10:05 p.m. and said someone was trying to break in, Mustang Police Chief Chuck Foley said. The call went dead, but she called back from a landline shortly thereafter.
She said on the call that a white man in his 20s or 30s in a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt shot her husband and sped away in a medium-sized or smaller pickup, Foley said.
Becky Bryan told investigators that before the shooter left, he told her that Bryan should have hired him, Foley said.
Paramedics took Keith Bryan to OU Medical Center, where he died Wednesday morning, hospital spokesman Scott Coppenbarger said.
Foley said Bryan's wife is the sole witness to the incident, and officers have only talked to her briefly. Nothing appears to have been stolen or damaged in the home, and there are no signs of a break-in, he said.
“This is very unusual for the city of Mustang,” Foley said.
Mustang police have asked the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for assistance.
Bryan was shot once in the head, the OSBI said. His wife gave agents a description of the shooter and the vehicle he was driving, and agents are following leads based upon that description.
OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said investigators want to speak to Becky Bryan again, and that she does not think they have completed a full interview with her yet. Brown said she doesn't know where Becky Bryan is now.
Becky Bryan filed for divorce from Keith Bryan in January 2010 in Canadian County District Court. The case is still pending. Becky Bryan's attorney, Elaine Arnold, did not immediately return a message seeking comment, and no attorney is listed for Keith Bryan.
Becky Bryan cited “complete and irreconcilable incompatibility” in seeking the divorce.
Foley said police had never been called to the Bryans' home before Tuesday night.
The house is in an addition south of SW 74 between Czech Hall and Cedar Springs roads. The houses are about 3,000 square feet and sit on large lots, typically with long driveways that lead from the street to the garage.
Oklahoma City fire headquarters on lockdown
Foley said investigators have been in contact with Oklahoma City fire officials because of the reference the shooter reportedly made about not getting a job. Oklahoma City Fire Chief Keith Bryant lives about six miles from the Bryans.
Doors at the Oklahoma City fire headquarters at 820 NW 5 were locked down Wednesday morning, Deputy Chief Mark Woodard said. The department recently went through a hiring process. Officials decided to take extra precautions due to the chiefs' similar names. Foley said investigators were concerned other local public officials could be targeted.
Bryant, who is at a conference in Washington, D.C., said he has discussed the situation with Oklahoma City and Mustang police officials but there has been no threat against his life. He said there's no need for extra security now at his home because he's out of town, but that he discussed the issue with Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty.
Bryant said his primary concern is for the Bryan family.
“Keith was a good friend of mine. We worked together for many years,” Bryant said. “That's where my thoughts have been, really.”
Bryant said Oklahoma City is always in the process of evaluating and hiring fire job candidates, but that there haven't been any notable instances of people being upset about not being hired.
Officials are looking at records of recent applicants for local fire department jobs as part of the investigation, Foley said.
Nichols Hills Assistant Fire Chief Terry Hamilton said the Nichols Hills Fire Department hasn't interviewed or hired any personnel since 2007. Hamilton has been named acting fire chief.
Bryan well liked, well known in two communities
The city of Nichols Hills issued a statement expressing condolences to Keith Bryan's family, saying it's “a difficult time” for the city and its employees. Fire departments from around the metro offered assistance responding to calls today, but the city said its firefighters remain on duty.
Keith Bryan worked for the city's fire department for 31 years.
He previously served as a Mustang city councilman.
Mustang Fire Chief Carl Hickman said he had known Bryan more than 15 years.
“We're just in disbelief,” Hickman said. “A lot of the chiefs are pretty close. Keith was highly respected throughout the metro area, both professionally and personally.”
Mustang City Manager Mike Rutledge said he was good friends with Bryan during his time as Ward 5 councilman from 2004-09.
“He was a smart, strong, knowledgeable leader who was very personable,” Rutledge said. “He would help anyone with anything they needed.”
Bryan was instrumental in developing a comprehensive city plan that addressed growth of the city and guidance for city employee performance, Rutledge said.
Bryan was able to assess difficult items that came before the city council.
“He took his job seriously,” Rutledge said
Rhonda Miller, 55, said she used to live next door to Keith Bryan and his wife for more than five years.
“He was just a great person,” Miller said. “I used to take my little daughter up to the fire station and he would make his fire buddies buy candy bars from her for school.”
She said Keith Bryan was a kind, Christian man who attended The Bridge Assembly of God in Mustang.
“I'm really going to miss him,” Miller said. “My stomach has a knot in it because I'm so sad that this happened to him.”