Law enforcement officials have released little information about a police shooting on Friday afternoon in an Oklahoma town, declining to provide answers to what led officers to shoot at a robbery suspect in a pickup truck – injuring him and three of the four children inside.
Agents with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) say they are still interviewing witnesses to the shooting, which occurred at 2pm on Friday near a residential home in Hugo, a town of 5,000 people.
Hugo police detectives had been looking for William Devaughn Smith, a 21-year-old suspect in an 11 April robbery at a local Pizza Hut.
The detectives were “attempting to make contact” with Mr Smith at a community food centre on Friday when “shots were fired” at 400 West Bissell Street, state authorities said in a news release.
Mr Smith, a woman and four unidentified children were in a green pickup truck when the shooting broke out. Mr Smith was injured, as were three of the children.
Authorities have not released the names of the injured children, but OSBI spokesperson Brook Arbeitman said they were aged five, three and one, and sustained “non-life threatening injuries”.
Olivia Hill identified herself as the woman in the truck in an interview with local TV station KXII.
Ms Hill is the mother of the four children, she told the station.
“My four-year-old daughter was shot in the head, and she has a bullet in her brain,” Ms Hill said through tears as she prepared to visit her injured kids at a children’s hospital in Tulsa.
“My five-year-old has a skull fracture. My one-year-old baby has gunshot wounds on her face, and my two-year-old wasn’t touched with any bullets.”
“I mean my children, for crying out loud,” Hill said. “Four innocent little children.”
Two Hugo detectives were involved in the altercation, authorities said.
Both have been placed on administrative leave. The OSBI has not released the names of the officers involved or how many shots were fired.
Ms Arbeitman did not disclose whether Smith or others in the pickup truck had a gun, or if the gunfire was one-sided.
She said the nature of the shooting – including the events that led to the gunfire – remain under investigation.
“We are still working to determine through our investigation exactly what happened between the officers making contact with him and a shooting ensuing,” Ms Arbeitman said on Saturday afternoon.
But according to reporting from KXII, Hugo police officials said that two officers were trying to approach Mr Smith when he allegedly backed up the pickup truck and hit one of the officers, causing minor injury.
Another officer was nearly hit, KXII reported, and began firing his weapon because he feared for his safety.
Ms Arbeitman said that Mr Smith was taken to a hospital in Paris, Texas, 30 miles south of Hugo, and treated for his injuries.
He was released into police custody and faces a felony charge of aggravated robbery.
The 11 April robbery took place just after 8am at a Pizza Hut in Hugo.
A man wearing black clothing entered the rear entrance to the restaurant and pressed an object into the back of an employee, police said. The man demanded money then fled.
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