Residents packed local supermarkets and auto parts stores to stock up on groceries and winter car essentials late Wednesday and all day Thursday.
An employee at Discount Foods, 1311 W Lee, reported that the store was sold out of salt, along with ingredients to make stews and chili.
"It's been a really busy day for us," she said.
Stacy Caron at the Braum's Ice Cream and Dairy Store, 4437 Cache Road, said her store was quickly out of two essential groceries Thursday.
"We're out of milk and bread, but we're staying busy," she said.
Caron said the store was waiting for an extra truckload of milk, bread and other items to arrival late Thursday or sometime Friday to replenish some empty shelves.
Jason Whaley, manager of the Walmart at 1002 N. Sheridan, said his store was "extremely busy" Thursday with many food items selling quickly, but no empty shelves.
"We still have milk, bread and meat in stock," he said.
Although Walmart still had many popular grocery items in stock, that was not the case for some winter car essentials.
"We still have antifreeze, but we're completely sold out of ice scrapers and deicer," Whaley said.
Brittany Martin, manager of Target at 2030 NW 82nd, said groceries were still in good supply Thursday afternoon with business steady throughout the day. She said salt and the automotive essentials, such as antifreeze, deicer and ice scrapers, were a different story.
ALTUS Authorities believe a suspect in a 12-year-old murder case has led them to where the victim is buried, but Thursday's winter storm halted efforts to recover the remains.
Garland Paul Allen, 49, of Hillsboro, Texas, is charged with second-degree murder in connection with the May 2001 death of his ex-wife, Tracy Allen, who was reported to have disappeared from her Altus residence at 616 W. Elm.
He appeared in Jackson County District Court Thursday after being transported to Altus from Decatur, Texas. Allen waived extradition from Wise County, Texas, Wednesday and was transported to Jackson County by a Texas Ranger and met by detectives of the Altus Police Department.
District Attorney John Wampler said that after arriving in Jackson County Wednesday night Allen led authorities to a site in Kiowa County where Tracy Allen's body was believed to have been buried. Efforts to recover her remains were suspended because of bad weather and will resume as soon as conditions permit.
Assisting with the recovery of the victim's remains are the state medical examiner's office, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, Kiowa County Sheriff's Department and an archeological team from the University of Oklahoma.
Allen was booked into the Jackson County Jail at approximately 8 p.m. Wednesday. He was arrested Monday night by deputies of the Wise County Sheriff's Department after being found hiding in his vehicle near Boyd, 35 miles northwest of Fort Worth. He was then held without bond in the Wise County Jail in Decatur until waiving extradition back to Jackson County Wednesday.
Following the completion of a 12-year investigation into her disappearance, an arrest warrant was issued last week for Allen. Police records showed that the couple had a rocky relationship and that police were called to many domestic disturbances and custody issues involving their two children. In September, 2000 the couple divorced and Tracy Allen and her two children began living on their own.
Sleet, snow fall across region for 2nd time, and it's not winter yet
Old Man Winter heaved an icy sigh over Southwest Oklahoma as a forewarned arctic blast snowed the region to a crawl.
With more than a week of warning of the impending storm, its arrival Thursday morning came as no surprise. However, many were caught off guard by the quickly slickening road conditions as freezing rain, sleet and snow combined to create a calamitous concoction for drivers to deal with.
Many schools ended classes early, and most are planning to close today because of the accumulations of ice expected overnight. Many government offices will be closed or have minimal staff today. The National Weather Service late Thursday was predicting more freezing rain and sleet overnight, turning to sleet and then snow. The snow was expected to end before 10 a.m. today, but the cold is expected to stay a while: Above-freezing temperatures aren't expected until Wednesday.
Several accidents kept local law enforcement officials tied up Thursday when Lawton drivers were caught in freezing rain. Tiny pellets of ice, later mixed with snowflakes, assaulted Lawton around 10:45 a.m., and within 20 minutes Lawton police were dispatched to the first in a string of accidents, a rollover at Interstate 44 and Southeast Lee Boulevard. No injuries were reported. Seconds later, another rollover was reported at I-44 and South 11th Street, and within an hour four vehicles had flipped around town. By late afternoon, the number of minor collisions was almost incalculable.
Bridges iced over quickly, and Lawton police requests for city crews to sand bridges poured in. After about 90 minutes, police reported to dispatchers that Northwest Rogers Lane between Fort Sill Boulevard and Sheridan Roads was solid ice. Just minutes later, another rollover was reported in the 1800 block of Northwest Rogers Lane.
Police Lt. James Cowley reported sections of Lee Boulevard were like "an ice skating rink," and at least a half-dozen additional traffic accidents followed.
Geronimo emergency personnel responded to an accident around 12:45 p.m. on Interstate 44, 3 miles south of the Geronimo exit, that resulted in one woman suffering head injuries and several lacerations. A pickup truck departed the roadway into a wheat field and crashed through a fence near Southwest 82nd Street and Baseline Road; a red Mazda crashed off the roadway east of Lawton.
Information from an automated kiosk that provides cash for electronics has provided enough information to file felony charges against a local man, authorities said.
Court records show Rafael Joyner, 18, was charged Nov. 25 with one count of possession of stolen property; information in his case was not available for review until Thursday, when a warrant was issued for his arrest.
According to an affidavit filed in court, the victim called police Nov. 13 to report her smartphone had been stolen from a table in south central Lawton on Nov. 1.
Police Detective Mark Mason searched Leads Online, a website used by pawnshops and secondhand stores to report transactions, and the serial number for her cell phone showed up. According to the site, her phone had been sold at 5:57 p.m. Nov. 1 at the EcoATM kiosk at Central Mall.
EcoATMs were created, according to the company's website, to provide consumers with an environmentally safe alternative to throwing away old electronics or keeping them piled up in a drawer.
The buying and selling of electronics is a trade as old as the Macintosh itself, so it's not new for thieves to get in on the action. EcoATM was created, however, with law enforcement concerns in mind.
According to the site, sellers must begin their transactions by inserting a valid photo ID into the machine. An image of the ID is transmitted to the company's headquarters along with images captured by the webcam on the machine in order for a person to verify the person using the machine is the person associated with the ID card.
The McMahon Foundation has awarded more than $200,000 for projects in two school districts, including Lawton Public Schools.
Kenneth Bridges, chairman of the McMahon Foundation's board of trustees, said the board met Monday and approved four grants for local entities: $125,000 to Lawton Public Schools, $100,000 to Elgin Public Schools, $50,000 to United Way of Lawton-Fort Sill and $6,000 to Lawton Area Reading Council.
The education-themed grants will allow the school districts to complete projects that will enhance learning for their students, school officials said.
For Lawton Public Schools, McMahon Foundation's $125,000 grant will be paired with a $125,000 grant from the Lawton Public School Foundation to cover the cost of switches that will complete work the district is undertaking to upgrade its technology.
Zeldon Rice, director of hardware services for the school district, said the joint funding project will allow the district to pay for the final major component of a technology upgrade that engineers already have started: a new computer network for the district, slated for completion by March 2015.
"We're going from a water hose to connecting each building (in the district) with a fire hose," Rice said, explaining that the district is installing a fiber network that connects all the buildings in the district, and the resulting upgrade will allow each building to connect to the Internet at a higher speed.
Switches are needed to tie those multiple connections to the district's network, and the district will need multiple switches, Rice said, noting the cost of those switches exceeds those needed for homes and small businesses. And, because secondary schools will be upgraded to a higher speed (10 gigs at secondary schools, versus 1 gig at elementary schools), those switches will be more costly. The grants from McMahon Foundation and theF Lawton Public School Foundation will allow the district to cover that cost, Rice said.
The Central and Western Oklahoma Region of the American Red Cross offered tips to avoid cold weather-induced house fires.
• All heaters need space. Keep all things that can burn (paper, matches, bedding, furniture, clothing, carpets, and rugs) at least three feet away from heating equipment.
• Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended, and use a glass or metal fire screen to keep fire and embers in the fireplace.
• Never use a cooking range or oven to heat your home.
• Turn off portable space heaters every time you leave the room or go to sleep.
• Have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces and chimneys inspected annually by a professional, and cleaned if necessary.
• If you must use a space heater, place it on a level, hard and nonflammable surface (such as ceramic tile floor), not on rugs or carpets or near bedding or drapes. Plug power cords directly into outlets and never into an extension cord.
With the cold temperatures, people need to be careful of frostbite and hypothermia, said Ken Garcia, regional director of communications.
Lawton Public Works Director Jerry Ihler said the streets division went to 12-hour shifts effective 10 a.m. Thursday, a staffing technique that ensures streets crews are out working on arterials around the clock. Streets shifts will begin at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Ihler said the streets division's work actually began Wednesday, when crews put down magnesium chloride on bridges, overpasses and emergency areas (such as near hospitals). The chemical slows down the freezing process, depending on air temperature, Ihler said.
While Lawton was receiving light snow late Thursday morning, precipitation changed to sleet over the lunch hour and Ihler said the streets division's seven sander trucks (trucks with mounted spreaders) hit the streets, placing down the salt/sand mixture that will give drivers on arterials a little more traction. That work will continue around the clock until streets are safe to travel, Ihler said, predicting streets crews will remain on their 12-hour shifts through the weekend because extremely cold weather conditions expected to persist through next week will not allow much thawing.
A teenager injured during a structure fire Wednesday afternoon in south Lawton has been issued an arrest and summons on suspicion of arson.
Firefighters were dispatched around 4 p.m. to a house fire at 4201 SW K, and preliminary accounts indicated there were children inside. Police Lt. Donnie Hanson and Officer Paterson arrived and tried to enter the house through the garage and back doors, but thick smoke prevented them from going inside. Fire crews immediately conducted a preliminary search, and concern levels rose when no one was located.
Witnesses said later they saw a 17-year-old man run from inside the house and provided a name.
While firefighters battled the blaze, dispatchers received a call from someone stating a person who had been inside the house when the fire started was at at a business in west Lawton. Just minutes later, the caller said a 17-year-old at that location had collapsed from smoke inhalation.
A burglary in progress early Wednesday led to the arrest of a Lawton teenager after a brief foot chase by police.
According to an arrest report from the Lawton Police Department, officers were called around 9:40 a.m. to a residence in the unit block of Northwest 28th Street. A woman told police she was staying with her daughter Wednesday morning when someone knocked at the door. The woman didn't know the person standing there, so the door stayed closed. However, the woman then heard someone kick in another door to the house, followed by footsteps on the kitchen floor.
The mother went next door to use a neighbor's phone, and when police arrived the culprit was still inside. Police set up a perimeter and the 17-year-old suspect came out of the door he had kicked in, according to police. After seeing officers, the suspect took off running east.
Lawton's Holiday in the Park officially opened less than a week ago, but it's already been targeted by thieves.
According to police records, officers were called Tuesday morning and told to that someone had stolen $970 worth of "wiring products" from a display in Elmer Thomas Park between 5 p.m. Nov. 29 and 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Police are also investigating a robbery reported around 11:15 a.m. Wednesday in northwest Lawton.
According to an incident report, the victim said a vehicle stopped in front of his house in the 3100 block of Northwest Ferris Avenue and called him to the driver's side. The victim told police the driver perched a gun on the window ledge and asked for money.