Muskogee ‘paralyzed with grief’ after 6 die in shooting rampage in Oklahoma

Nolan Clay and John Bacon
 |  Oklahoman

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Oklahoma shooting: Five children, one adult killed

Five children were among six people killed in a shooting rampage at a home in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Associated Press, USA TODAY

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – The suspect in a fatal shooting of a man and five children in their home was held Wednesday on multiple murder charges as investigators labored to determine what prompted the rampage.

Police said Jarron Deajon Pridgeon, 25, opened fire early Tuesday, killing his brother, Javarion Lee, 24, and the children, all under the age of 10. Pridgeon, 25, had been evaluated for mental illness after being charged with assault in 2019, court records show.

The children’s mother, Brittany Anderson, suffered life-threatening injuries in the house and was airlifted to a Tulsa hospital, police said. She was in stable condition, police said.

Three other children in the home were not injured, police said.

The slain children were identified as Jalaiya Pridgeon, 1; Jaidus Pridgeon, 3; Harmony Anderson, 5; Neveah Pridgeon, 6; and Que’dynce Anderson, 9. Jarron Pridgeon, who was held at the Muskogee County/City Detention Facility, lived in the home with the victims at least some of the time, police said.

Pridgeon, who police said was not cooperating with investigators, faces six counts of first-degree murder, one count of shooting with intent to kill and one count of possession of a firearm after a felony conviction.

Neighbors told the Muskogee Phoenix the family had recently moved in and the children often played outside.

Damon Smith, who lives a few houses down, said he regularly walked his dog, Katy Bell, past the home.

“The kids, they were always waving at me,” Smith told the Phoenix. “It’s a big shock.”

Five children among 6 killed in Muskogee, Oklahoma, shooting rampage

Officers responded to a call about the shooting at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, encountering an armed suspect at the house, Police Chief Johnny Teehee said. The suspect fled on foot after an officer fired but missed. Pridgeon was taken into custody after a short pursuit.

The police chief said investigators were trying to interview the survivors. Asked whether police had any idea about motive, he replied, “No, we really don’t.”

Pridgeon was charged with assault and battery two years ago after he threw concrete at a woman. He pleaded guilty and was put on probation for three years. In June 2019, a judge ordered an evaluation by a state mental health expert to determine whether Pridgeon “suffers from a mental illness,” court records show. A report on the evaluation is filed in the case under seal from the public.

At least two of the dead were students at Creek Elementary School, Muskogee Public Schools said. Grief counseling will be provided for students and staff, the school district said.

Police officers who responded to the scene also were provided counseling, the police department said.

Mayor Marlon Coleman said the shooting “left our community paralyzed with grief.”

“Even though the suspect is in custody, no court of law or sentencing phase can restore this loss of life,” he said. “I am asking our community to express its concerns by being resolute in its ability to care for one another.”

Bacon reported from Arlington, Va.

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