NICHOLS HILLS — Firefighters working the morning shift on Wednesday were flooded with calls of support and gifts in the aftermath of Nichols Hills Fire Chief Keith Bryan's shooting death in Mustang.
Assistant Fire Chief Terry Hamilton said the small department of 13 firefighters “has heard from just about every fire chief in the state.”
“We've been getting calls and food and flowers all morning,” Hamilton said. “We've had offers to help from just about every department in the area. But they're firefighters … that's just what they do.”
Hamilton has been named acting chief in the wake of Bryan's death. He said it's too early for the department to think about a permanent successor.
“We're a pretty small department … pretty much like a family,” Hamilton said. “So, yeah, it's too early to think about a long-term replacement at this point.”
Fire Capt. Roger Straka said the department's firefighters are dealing with the reality of Bryan's death — and the manner in which he was killed — as well as can be expected.
“It's definitely been hard on us,” Straka said. “This is a very small department where everybody knows what's going on in each other's lives.”
‘He loved this city
and this community'
Hamilton said he has spoken with Bryan's wife, Rebecca, since the shooting Tuesday night but declined to say what they talked about.
He also said he was close with Bryan and that their families sometimes vacationed together.
“I worked with him for 30 years,” Hamilton said. “And I can honestly say that I was totally shocked when I heard what happened. It was completely unexpected.”
Hamilton said Bryan, who had two sons and two grandchildren, will be missed at the city's fire station.
“He was the biggest practical joker we have here … had a great sense of humor,” he said. “And he loved this city and this community. He took the job of providing our service very seriously, and he was respected for that.”
Bryan also will be remembered for his efforts in and around the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.
In the aftermath of the bombing, Bryan and hundreds of local, state and federal rescue workers converged on the scene.
Bryan recounted the experience in a media report on the 10-year anniversary of the bombing, saying the ordeal had taught him to deal with victims and his own emotions.
“After the bombing, I had a lot of emotions,” Bryan said in 2005. “There came a breaking point, a big cry. After that, I think I was a better boss and husband. I'm able to cry now at the things I hold inside. I see it as a good thing. I'm able to relate to people.”