Veteran thankful to be alive after near deadly attack

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Updated: 11/21/2012 11:06 pm Published: 11/21/2012 3:10 pm

A Wagoner County family knows the true meaning of being thankful on Thanksgiving.

"It really puts thanks back into Thanksgiving," said Kathy Payne.

Last Thanksgiving her husband, Kenneth Payne, was shot and left for dead at Fort Gibson Wildlife Management Area known as Toppers gun range.

Doctors call the 74-year-old Air Force veteran the Miracle Man who survived.

"One time when I was an OSI Agent for the Air Force there were a couple of people who probably wanted to see me dead but I am still here," said Kenneth Payne.

The shooters haven’t been caught.

"I am not too concerned about it,” said Payne. “They inflicted damage on me and I don't think they are concerned about it. I’m not. I am sure they are not happy I am still alive.”

Payne still sets out every morning to shoot at the same range.

"There is nothing to be afraid of and I know everyone except for these two people. That happened once in a life time and it won’t happen again," said Payne. "We've had some beautiful shooting days."

Kenneth was shot twice. He has trouble walking, speaking and he is blind in his right eye.

"I can't see out of this eye through the rifle without raising the sights. I've had to raise them about three inches," said Payne.

However, the veteran special agent in the Office of Special Investigations in the Air Force doesn’t have trouble shooting his guns.  

"I try to be as perfect as I can. I like to put all the bullets in the bullseye. I don't see why I can't do that,” said Payne.

After being shot in the leg, Kenneth now has a titanium rod in his left leg.

"It felt like I had been hit in the back by a two-by-four," said Payne.

The trail of bullets that injured Kenneth showed the shooters chased him.

"He came up and put his knee on my back and the gun behind my eye and squeezed the trigger. Never once did I move. I couldn't move a muscle," said Payne.

The veteran was bleeding and left for dead. The shooters took off with his four guns and his cart.

"I refuse to see myself as a victim," said Payne.

Before Kenneth blacked out he called his cousin.

"It didn't dawn on me to call 911. I just wanted a person to talk to," said Payne. “I could use the phone and then pass out. God gave me my angel that kept me awake long enough to do what I needed to do."

His wife knew her husband had amazing strength but what he has been through as an Air Force veteran, attorney and husband, it’s his spiritual strength that saved his life.

"His spiritual strength is unmatched," said Kathy Payne.

"He's my James Bond for sure," said his wife.

Kenneth was in a coma for five days and hospitalized for four months.

He’s had several surgeries and still has physical and speech therapy.

"One of the strongest, he is the strongest man I have ever known," said Kathy Payne.  "He's my James Bond for sure." 

A year after the shooting, Kenneth said he’s more concerned about living than catching who did this to him.

"I don't know who these men are or where they are today but it really doesn't concern me. If the police catch them and punish them, fine. If they don't I guess they got away with something,” said Payne.

However, his wife wants justice.

"They hurt my Kenny and I am like an old mother tiger," said Kathy Payne.

Meantime, Kenneth and his wife are going to have the Thanksgiving they wanted last year.

“It's going to be a special day because we are going to have special people here," said Payne.

Kenneth said he remembers two men sitting at a table that morning who said good morning to him. He was able to describe the men to an OSBI sketch artist.

Sketch one is that of possibly a Hispanic male in his late 50s with a light complexion. He stood approximately 5’9” tall and weighed about 160-165 pounds.

The second sketch is that of the second suspect who has dark curly hair that extends to the back of his shirt collar. He also stands approximately 5’ 9” tall and weighs about 160 pounds. This man is in his mid-to-late 30s.

OSBI said the sketches are only considered likenesses of the suspects.

At least four guns were stolen from Payne as well as a gun caddy.

OSBI released a photograph similar to one of the stolen rifles which is a rare Mitchell Black Lightning .22 magnum rifle.

Since this firearm is unique looking, investigators believe someone may recognize it and can lead officials to it.

If anyone has information about this case, please call either the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office or the OSBI hotline at 1-800-522-8017.

The $5,000 reward has been renewed.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Mayor Maynot - 11/23/2012 10:49 AM
0 Votes
Lucky guy.

center mass - 11/22/2012 10:02 PM
0 Votes
Scum sucking filth. I hope the cops get these two. Shooting an elderly man with the intent of killing him, stealing his firearms to assault more people with. Absolutely the worst examples of human garbage there is. I wish I could assist in the capture of these two. It's too bad decent people have to breath the same air as trash like this. Mr. Payne, I sure hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday, and please keep your guns loaded, god bless.
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