Mike Barrett, who owns a 30-acre hunting property south of Fairland, said he first called 911 dispatch at 2:51 p.m. on Jan. 7 to report what he had seen while hunting in the woods that night.
FAIRLAND – A Tulsa man out deer hunting gave a harrowing account of the night a law enforcement fugitive manhunt ended in a fatality on his property.
Mike Barrett, who owns a 30-acre hunting property south of Fairland off County Road 202, said he first called 911 dispatch at 2:51 p.m. on Jan. 7 to report what he had seen while hunting in the woods that night.
“It's so weird, I tell everybody I went for a deer hunt and ended up in the middle of a manhunt,” Barrett said. “It was just so incredible.”
According to Barrett, he witnessed a portion of the manhunt that ended with Ottawa County Sheriff Jeremy Floyd fatally shooting an armed burglary and auto theft suspect, Travis Edward Baker, 42, of Fairland.
“We have 30 acres there and a home we use mainly for hunting. I was deer hunting on my property and all of a sudden a gray Dodge pickup comes barreling through my property,” Barrett said. “It wasn't on the road for very long because the bridge is closed and had been washed out. It was happening so quickly, and I decided where I was in my blind within just a few seconds of him barreling through my woods that it was time to get out of there and make a call. I really had no way to protect myself. He was just about 30 yards from me.”
Barrett said that after realizing the bridge was out, Baker had attempted to drive the stolen truck up a hill and became high centered on a tree before abandoning the vehicle and running off into the woods.
“He tried to make it up a hillside, but the truck he was driving was a two-wheel drive truck and he couldn't make it up the loose leaves and cobbles and went back onto a small tree and bent it over and it raised up and the rear end of the truck where he couldn't get any traction,” Barrett said. “Then he ran to the south.”
Barrett knew he needed to call law enforcement.
“When I called I told them what I saw and that he was driving crazy. She asked if I saw an airplane and I did off to the east. I told them they needed to come this way. I guided police and the plane to where the truck was abandoned on my property. They had the plane overhead and then zeroed in on the property and the police weren't familiar with how to get around, so I kind of help guide them,” he said.
Cell service was not good down in the valley where he was located, so Barrett said he had to climb to higher ground to reconnect to the 911 dispatcher at 2:54 p.m.
“It took her a few minutes to actually locate me because I'm so low there, they weren't actually getting a signal from my phone,” he said. “That's when she told me the guy was armed and to be careful. I jumped down as low as I could get beside the roadway. I had left my bow in my blind. I just thought,' I've got to get out of here.'”
Barrett said he told the dispatcher the suspect was stuck down in the creek bed and she patched him through to the officers searching to give them directions.
Law enforcement officers soon swarmed his property in search of the suspect and pushed off into the woods. He returned back down to his hunting cabin on his land when he encountered a law enforcement officer who he believes had just arrived on the scene.
“This officer came running down my roadway and he was a little later on the scene, and I'm not unsure that it wasn't the sheriff that noticed me standing by my truck at the house while the other officers were pushing down through the woods. He called everybody back out of the woods to me and asked me to freeze and show them my hands,” Barrett said. “ Now we got six officers standing around me and one said, 'Sorry, he didn't know who you were.' I had never been in a situation like that. ”
Barrett complied and the law enforcement officers soon discovered he was the landowner and not the suspect and they all took back to the woods in pursuit of Baker.
“I told them I have a hunting blind that was about 50 yards from the truck that a person could hide in and explained where it was located down the creek bed and they all pushed off to go check that blind,” he said. “I think that's when everything happened. A little bit later, around 4:01 p.m. I hear some yelling and a dog and stuff like that. I was in and out of my truck so I don't exactly remember hearing a shot.”
Normally Barrett said he would have been hunting from that same blind, but because of the nicer weather he chose to hunt elsewhere on the property.
After a period of time when he felt it was safe, Barrett said he went to take pictures of the damage to his property and met another law enforcement officer on the roadway.
“He told me they got the guy,” he said. “I haven't heard back from them since. They said it was still under investigation and I would be hearing from them. I still get adrenaline pumping through my body every time I talk about it. I'm pacing back and forth in my office right now talking to you.”
Barrett said he did not know Baker and did not believe he had ever been on his property before that day.
Floyd has been placed on paid administrative leave until the investigation is complete as is protocol in officer involved shootings and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation.
The fatal shooting occurred in rural Fairland located near County Road 618 and 210 Road.
According to an earlier statement released for the OSBI, Sheriff Floyd fatally shot Baker after he reportedly pointed a handgun at the lawman. Earlier in the day, Baker was suspected of stealing several cars and breaking into homes in Ottawa County and area law enforcement officers engaged in a vehicle pursuit.
Baker abandoned his vehicle and tried to run from the area. Several officers pursued him on foot in a wooded area until the fatal incident occurred.
Baker died at the scene.
OSBI special agents will prepare a comprehensive report for the Ottawa County District Attorney Kenny Wright. The district attorney will make the determination whether the shooting was justified.
“The Sheriff is expected to be, hopefully by the end of this week, if not by midweek next week, back on duty,” Ottawa County Undersheriff Dan Cook said last week.
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1