Funeral set for slain state labor commissioner

by: Tiffany Alaniz Updated:

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Quick Facts:

  • Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor Mark Costello was killed Sunday evening in Oklahoma City.
  • According to reports, Costello was stabbed to death at an OKC restaurant.
  • His son, Christian Costello, was taken into police custody

Oklahoma City police arrested the son of Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor Mark Costello for the stabbing death of Mark Costello. 

Police say Costello's son, Christian, stabbed him at an Oklahoma City Braum's. Officers originally believed the father and son met at a Braum's in the northwest part of the city to settle an earlier argument, they no longer think that is the case. They said there was no prior disagreement.

More after video.

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In a statement issued by the Costello family, they said Christian suffers from a mental health disease: 

"There are no words to express the shock and sadness that our family has experienced the last number of hours. The outpouring of emotion and support our family feels is tremendous. 

Our son, Christian Costello, has experienced many difficulties over the past several years. Christian, like thousands of Oklahomans, struggles with a mental health disease and like many families we did our best to support him. Mark was committed to being there for his son and provided whatever help he could as a father.  

We ask for your prayers and support as our family tries to cope with and understand this life-changing tragedy. 

Mark loved to brag about his kids and their successes, but like many in the public eye, he also viewed his family life as personal. We ask that you respect our family's privacy as we work through this very difficult time and please understand that our family will struggle with this for years to come as we try and find answers."

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Witnesses reported the two began arguing and the situation got violent. Police have not yet received surveillance footage from the incident. They said Mark Costello was in a car when they got on scene and attempted to stop bleeding and perform CPR.

"In a case like this, in any homicide, it's going to take some time," Captain Paco Balderrama said.

Police interviewed at least 17 witnesses on the scene. According to those witnesses, Christian Costello used a steak knife and stabbed his father multiple times. Oklahoma City Police said they do not know where Christian got the knife. 

During a press conference Monday morning, Oklahoma City Police said Mark Costello tried to run away. His son allegedly chased him into the parking lot, continuing to stab him. Police are looking into if he brought the knife and the attack was premeditated.

Officials told FOX23 people stopped Christian Costello and held him until police arrived. A Braum's worker used their car to stop Christian, and witnesses used their belts to restrain him until police arrived. 

According to police, Mark Costello's wife was in the parking lot during the attack. She tried to stop Christian, but was unsuccessful.  He sustained multiple stab wounds, including one to the head. He died at a hopsital. 

One of Costello's daughters commented on Facebook concerning the incident:

"Never going to be walked down the aisle by you, never going to have my father-daughter dance at my wedding, never going to introduce you to my husband and your grandkids."

Christian Costello faces a charge of first degree murder. He was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail.

Formal charges could take weeks as investigators continue building a case. 

Costello's rosary and funeral mass is scheduled for Friday, August 28 at 6:30 p.m. at St. Monica' Catholic Church in Edmond.

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Costello, a Bartlesville native, graduated from College High School in 1974. He began serving as commissioner in 2010 after settling in Edmond and founding Amcat in 1984 and spending the last decade working with several other technological companies. State leaders say Costello had his eyes set on becoming governor.

More after video.

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Police confirmed counselors are on hand in his office to help deal with any trauma related to the death. His death sent shockwaves through many Oklahoma communities.  

Several politicians and officials around Oklahoma shared their thoughts in the wake of the killing. 

State Senator Kevin Matthews said the loss was devastating, that he remembered Costello handing out jars of nuts to lawmakers, noting that they would come in handy during long nights of legislative session, as well as writing personal checks for $500 to support a job shadowing program that puts teens to work in the summer months:

"He was committed not only in words, but in action." 

Senator James Lankford released the following statement:

"My family is stunned and deeply grieved to hear of the tragic death of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.  Mark was passionate about our nation, conservative fiscal principles, and the people of our state. Mark was a friend, and as we grieve, we will also pray for his family as they deal with this unbelievable tragedy."

More after video.

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Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak released the following statement:

"I am deeply saddened by the loss of my dear friend Mark Costello. He was a wonderful leader and public servant. This is a major loss to the state of Oklahoma and everyone who loved Mark. My thoughts and prayers go out to his beloved wife Cathy and their family."

Jim Marshall, Oklahoma Department of Labor Chief of Staff, also released a statement:

"Mark Costello was a tremendous leader, colleague and most importantly friend to all of those at the Oklahoma Department of Labor. Our hearts ache as an agency for this tragic event and our department grieves for his family during this very difficult time. We ask for your prayers and respect for the family of Commissioner Costello."

Oklahoma House Speaker Jeffrey Hickman released this statement:

“Along with my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the House of Representatives, I am deeply saddened by this personal tragedy for the Costello family. I had the opportunity to work with Mark on numerous issues. He was always passionate about what he believed to be the right thing for our state but he also approached these issues with a smile on his face and a sense of humor. What I most admired about him was the respect he would show to those who might disagree with him on an issue, not making it personal and looking for ways to work together on different issues in the future. Sadly, that is a trait becoming more rare in politics.  "Mark had a successful career in the private sector but was willing to give back to our state through his public service in recent years. His dedication to bringing the conservative principles of many hard working Oklahomans to state government is appreciated, it made a difference, and it will not be forgotten.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">NEW-Police <a href="https://twitter.com/okcpd">@okcpd</a> will update media about Labor Commissioner&#39;s murder 9:30 &#10;We&#39;re live <a href="https://twitter.com/FOX23">@FOX23</a> with what led to attack <a href="http://t.co/qjcvy25Mmn">pic.twitter.com/qjcvy25Mmn</a></p>&mdash; Tiffany Alaniz (@TiffanyAlaniz) <a href="https://twitter.com/TiffanyAlaniz/status/635801833936519168">August 24, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Counselors were at the Oklahoma Labor Department to help his co-workers. Governor Fallin ordered flags flown at half staff.