Law enforcement officials have released little information about a police shooting Friday afternoon in a southeastern 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.
Hugo police detectives had been looking for William Devaughn Smith, a 21-year-old suspect in an April 11 robbery at a local Pizza Hut. The detectives were “attempting to make contact” with Smith at a community food center Friday when “shots were fired” at 400 W. Bissell St., state authorities said in a news release.
Smith, a woman and four unidentified children were in a green pickup when the shooting broke out. Smith was injured, as were three of the children. Authorities have not released the names of the injured children, but OSBI spokeswoman Brook Arbeitman said they were 5 and younger and suffered injuries that weren’t life-threatening.
Olivia Hill identified herself as the woman in the truck and the mother of the four children in an interview with local TV station KXII.
“My 4-year-old daughter was shot in the head, and she has a bullet in her brain,” Hill said through tears as she prepared to visit her injured kids at a children’s hospital in Tulsa. “My 5-year-old has a skull fracture. My 1-year-old baby has gunshot wounds on her face, and my 2-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, authorities said, and both have been placed on administrative leave. The OSBI has not released their names or how many shots were fired.
Arbeitman did not disclose whether Smith or others in the pickup had a gun or whether the gunfire was one-sided. She said the nature of the shooting — including the events that led to it — 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,” Arbeitman said Saturday.
But according to reporting from KXII, Hugo police officials said that two officers were trying to approach 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 because he feared for his safety.
Arbeitman said that Smith was taken to a hospital in Paris, Tex., 30 miles south of Hugo, and treated. He was released into police custody and faces a felony charge of aggravated robbery.
The April 11 robbery took place just after 8 a.m. 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.