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August 4, 2007

‘He was a special boy’

By Tony Pennington

Transcript Staff Writer

NOBLE – The boat dock on the family pond was a favorite spot for Jack Tracy and his six grandchildren.

Tracy often would gather the children in his all-terrain vehicle and travel the more than 100 yards from his home to the watering hole. There the clan would feed the fish or drop a line in the water among the numerous trees, constant hum of insects, irregular splashes of fish breaking the surface and the cawing and chirping of various birds.

This once pristine setting has become tainted following a Friday evening shooting that left Tracy’s grandson Austin Haley, 5, dead and at least one Noble police officer on administrative leave.

“There was no reason to discharge a firearm,” proclaimed Tracy Saturday afternoon mere feet from the boat dock where Austin was struck by a stray bullet.

Fighting the tears visible in his eyes, Tracy continued, “He killed my grandbaby. I wish he killed me.”

Austin died Friday evening at Norman Regional Hospital following injuries he sustained when a rogue bullet struck him in the head. The 5-year-old, who would have attended kindergarten at Katherine I. Daily Elementary School in Noble in a few weeks, was at the pond with Tracy, his great-grandfather Jim Gillum and younger brother Dalton, 2.

According to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation officials a Noble police officer fired his weapon twice at a residence in the 300 block of Crest Lane in Noble. The rooftops of the houses on Crest Lane can been seen from the boat dock.

The officer, whose name has not been released by the Noble police department, was responding to a call sometime around 8 p.m. about a snake trapped in a birdhouse. The animal is believed to have been a “cotton mouth” or “water moccasin” — a poisonous water snake. It was then the officer allegedly unholstered his firearm and expelled two rounds.

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