NOBLE — The first shot was so loud it made the hair stand straight up on Jack Tracy's arm. The bullet hit the water just a few feet in front of the boat dock where he was standing.
Instinctively, he pulled his 5-year-old grandson, Austin Haley, close to his left side and began yelling that there were people down by the pond.
Then came the second shot, and the unforgettable thump of a 9 mm bullet penetrating a young boy's skull.
Tracy thought he and his grandson were under attack, so he threw the boy into the back of a 4-wheeler and drove to his daughter's house about 200 yards away.
"Then two officers came out of the brush over there,” he said. "They didn't tell us they were the ones who had been shooting or that they had shot him. They didn't admit a doggone thing.”
Much later, Tracy said, he found out one of the officers had fired two shots in the Crest Lane neighborhood, trying to kill a snake that had become lodged in a birdhouse on the back porch of a house just up the hill from Tracy's pond.
‘I just feel really bad'
Police had gotten a call of a snake complaint from a woman on Crest Lane, whose 16-year-old daughter saw the snake hanging about 3 feet of its body outside a neighbor's bird house on Friday.
The woman, who would not identify herself, told The Oklahoman
she called the police station to see if animal control could respond and take care of the snake, which she believed to be a diamondback rattlesnake.
She was told that the city, which lost its only animal control officer recently, would send a police officer over to help.
"This was just a freak and tragic accident,” the woman said, "and I just feel really bad for everyone involved.”
Other neighbors weren't as sympathetic.
Crest Lane resident Kara Johnson said there was no excuse for shooting a gun at a snake in a residential area.
"It's a shame that someone had to lose their 5-year-old child over a snake,” Johnson said. "And that's their only child. They'll never get their kid back.”
Neighbor G.W. Henderson said his wife heard a woman screaming within minutes of the shots.
"She was shouting ‘You shot my boy! You shot my boy!'” Henderson said.
Grandfather recalls how grandson died
Sign the guestbook and share your thoughts with Austin's...