What started off as a routine license check quickly escalated after a man reportedly tried to drown an Oklahoma game warden over the weekend.
According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), a game warden approached three men fishing near Bunch in eastern Oklahoma on Sunday and asked to see their licenses. Among the men was 29-year-old Billy Joe Patrick, who had an active warrant out in Arkansas for a parole violation. When the warden attempted to arrest Patrick, OSBI officials said that Patrick began fighting back.
“The men fell into a pond where the suspect tried to hold the officer’s head under water,” the OBSI stated on Facebook. “The officer fought his way above the water and shot the suspect. The man died at the scene.”
The officer, who has not yet been identified, was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for minor injuries. Alongside the state Department of Wildlife Conservation, the OSBI and Adair County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating the case. Investigators will later send their findings to the Adair County District Attorney, who will determine whether the shooting was justified.
Although game wardens are usually tasked with protecting wildlife such as game and fish, they also often find themselves in different roles, such as carrying out arrests on outstanding warrants. Since wardens usually work alone or in small teams, they are also among the most extensively trained of state law enforcement officers.
According to Tulsa World, there are currently 117 wardens employed in Oklahoma. Since 1909, only two have been killed in the line of duty. The most recent fallen officer, Melvin Garrison, was drowned while attempting to arrest a ring of fish poachers in 1971. No one was ever charged in connection with his death.