Fierce gun battle in Oklahoma ends with fugitive dead

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A fierce gun battle with Oklahoma troopers left a homicide suspect dead and ended a weeklong manhunt for the man suspected in a string of violent crimes across the state, including the killing of two relatives and the shooting of three law enforcement officers.

After a tip from a farmer led authorities on Sunday to a camp site near Hammon in far western Oklahoma, the manhunt intensified for Michael Dale Vance Jr., who had posted two Facebook Live videos on Oct. 24 documenting his run from police, said Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Paul Timmons.

Several troopers were chasing Vance, who was driving a stolen flatbed pickup truck, when the vehicle went off the road near Leedey, 130 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

“He exited the vehicle and engaged our troopers in a pretty fierce gun battle,” Timmons said. “It’s probably safe to say he (Vance) was hit more than once.”

Vance was pronounced dead at the scene, and authorities plan to release dashboard-camera video of the shooting during a press conference on Tuesday, Timmons said.

Earlier Sunday, Vance shot and wounded Dewey County Sheriff Clay Sander after Sander stopped a pickup truck to warn the driver about a chain dragging behind it.

“The driver of the truck stopped and exited the vehicle shooting an assault rifle,” said Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown. “The sheriff was shot in the shoulder and arm as he returned fire.”

Oklahoma Highway Patrol air units in the area were able to spot the vehicle, and a chase ensued, Timmons said.

Sander underwent surgery Monday morning and is recovering from his injuries, which are not life threatening, said Dewey County office deputy Judy Junkins.

Timmons said the authorities were tipped off to Vance’s whereabouts by a farmer who spotted a vehicle in his field that matched the description of the car the fugitive was thought to be driving.

“The vehicle was covered with brush and tumbleweeds,” Timmons said. “It appears that he had been camped out there for some time.”

Also on Monday, authorities charged three acquaintances of Vance, 34-year-old Danny Roach of Oklahoma City, 36-year-old April Harden, and 33-year-old Reginald Moore, with aiding Vance after he had shot and wounded two Wellston police officers and killed two relatives.

Roach provided Vance with bandages, an assault rifle and ammunition last week after Vance came to his home in Oklahoma City, said Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel.

“Roach admitted he was aware that Vance had just been in a shootout with law enforcement, and he also knew that Vance had just killed two people,” Whetsel said.

All three were charged Monday with two counts of accessory to felony murder after the fact, and Roach was charged with two counts of possession of a firearm after a felony conviction.