Texas man is charged in deadly I-40 shooting spree
ARAPAHO — A Texas man is charged with murder — accused of a drunken shooting spree on Interstate 40 that left two dead and terrorized several more.
Jeremy Doss Hardy, 36, was denied bail by Special District Judge Donna Dirickson during his arraignment Monday afternoon in Custer County District Court.
Hardy sat quietly on the back row of the courtroom for 15 minutes or more before the judge began the proceeding. Hardy was guarded by sheriff's deputies and state troopers. Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples sat in the empty jury box.
Hardy was expressionless in the nearly full courtroom and was barely audible as he answered the judge's questions.
He wore a county jail orange inmate outfit as he stood before Dirickson, but not handcuffs.
Hardy is accused of fatally shooting Billie Jean West, 63, of Lone Wolf, and Jeffery Kent Powell, 45, of Arapaho. Both were driving on the westbound interstate lanes at the time of the shootings.
Hardy also faces fives counts of use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and a single count of assault with a dangerous weapon, eluding a police officer and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Hardy was arrested Thursday after leading Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers on a 13-mile pursuit. He blew a 0.16 blood alcohol test — twice the legal limit — after his arrest, court records show.
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Multiple spent bullet casings were recovered from his pickup, and “other evidence obtained was consistent with gunshots being fired from the inside of Hardy's truck,” according to the probable cause affidavit.
Court records list Hardy as a Pasadena, Texas, resident, but his father told The Oklahoman that he is an oil-field worker who lives with his wife just north of Liberty, Texas.
Roadway of terror
About 11:40 p.m. Wednesday, Jeffery Powell and his wife, Tamara Powell, were driving west on I-40 in Canadian County when a black dually pickup drove up behind the couple's sport utility vehicle at a high rate of speed. Jeffery Powell sped up and then pulled off the road to avoid being struck from behind. The pickup then drove off, according to the affidavit.
Adam Wood was driving west on I-40 west of El Reno when a black dually pickup came up behind him at a high rate of speed and then swerved at his vehicle. Wood lost control, and the pickup sped off, according to the affidavit.
About 11:45 p.m. and three miles west, the pickup — which had pulled off the road — swerved at Wood and began chasing him again. Wood was fleeing the pickup at about 100 mph when he heard sounds like a vehicle backfiring, he said, then exited the interstate at a truck stop. The pickup chased him around the truck stop parking lot before heading back toward the interstate, the probable cause affidavit states.
The black pickup caught up with the Powells at mile marker 96 in Caddo County, when Tamara Powell phoned troopers to report what was happening. The pickup pulled up beside their SUV, and shots were fired into the SUV, striking Jeffery Powell in his upper body, court records show.
Jefferey Powell pulled to the shoulder of the road, and his wife rendered aid to him as he died, the affidavit states.
Just afterward, Joshua Morris was driving a commercial vehicle west near mile marker 101 when a black dually pickup passed him at a high rate of speed. As it passed, Morris heard several “thunk” sounds but did not find the bullet holes until he pulled over at mile marker 84. Morris reported passing an SUV stopped on the shoulder about 10 miles back and a Volkswagen at the off-ramp where he was exiting, the affidavit states.
About 12:15 a.m. Thursday, troopers responding to a call of another shooting victim found Billie West shot dead inside her Volkswagen on the off-ramp of Interstate 40 near mile marker 84. She died from what appeared to be a single gunshot wound, according to the affidavit.
Abdulliani Farah was driving another commercial vehicle west when at mile marker 80 a black dually pickup “passed him in an aggressive manner,” the affidavit states.
At mile marker 78, Steven Connly recalls that a black dually pickup with the passenger window down passed him westbound when he heard a sound that he thought to be a tire blowout, but he found a bullet hole in his driver's side door when he stopped seven miles later, the affidavit states.
At mile marker 66 in Custer County, the pickup once again caught up to Farah, who heard several “pops” as it passed him again. He pulled off the road as smoke came from the vehicle's engine, according to the affidavit.
An Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper saw a black pickup matching the description of the shooter's vehicle swerving from one lane to another at westbound mile marker 57 in Custer County and began pursuing the pickup. About mile marker 50 in Washita County, the driver threw an object from the pickup. A sheriff's deputy recovered a handgun in the grass on the side of the road at that spot, the affidavit states.
The driver of the pickup doubled back down the eastbound lanes of the interstate where he was stopped by law officers at mile marker 57. The pickup was processed by Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents, who found the casings inside it, the affidavit states.
The bureau said Hardy is the only person being investigated in connection with the shootings. Law enforcement officials haven't released a motive in the shooting, and there was no apparent connection between the victims.
Custer County District Attorney Angela Marsee said more counts may be added as the investigation that spans multiple counties continues.
“At this time, all of these counts will be handled here in Custer County,” Marsee said.
Hardy remains jailed in Custer County.