Wagoner veteran left for dead lives

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Updated: 11/24/2011 10:32 pm Published: 11/24/2011 2:48 pm

State agents are looking for a gunman who left an elderly veteran for dead but he survived.

Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert says Kenneth W. Payne, 73, of Wagoner was shot Thanksgiving morning at the Ft. Gibson Wildlife Management Area shooting range just a mile east of Wagoner.

Payne called his cousin for help who then called 911.
As Payne’s cousin Marshall Wilson searched his call log he found the call the Air Force veteran made at 8:19 a.m.

"He said he has been hurt, I had trouble understanding him I told him I was on my way,” says Wilson.

He says Payne called twice that morning. Payne was 73-years-old and was weak so Wilson thought he had a heart attack.

The veteran’s wife says he spent every morning on the range.

"He always told me if he wasn't back home by 9 a.m. to come out to the firing range out on Toppers [Road],” says Wilson.

When Wilson and investigators got to the range, it turned to a crime scene.

"This is probably one of the worst things I've seen to shoot a 73-year-old veteran and leave him laying for dead,” says Sheriff Colbert.

The dirt trail from the range parking to the target practice shows track marks from Payne’s cart he used to carry his weapons.

Investigators believe he was leaving the range.

"I can't figure out why someone would do that to him to someone so old. All they had to do was shove him over he was pretty weak,” says Wilson.

Instead they shot Payne multiple times and took with at least four of his gun and cart.

The deep marks on the trail where Payne was found are believed to be where the bullets fell.

Wilson remembers a conversation with Payne.

"He told me about a week ago that two guys came out there and sat down and watched him, they didn't have firearms, and he was suspicious of them. He didn't know them so he loaded up and left,” says Wilson.

The Sheriff wouldn’t comment on what the shooters may have said or what they looked like.

"I'm telling you, this is ruthless to shoot an elderly veteran to leave him laying for dead over some weapons is senseless. We and OSBI are going to spare nothing to catch these guys,” says Colbert.

The Sheriff says he believes hunters who were out that morning may have heard the shots but were unaware a man had been shot.

If they were out in the Ft. Gibson Wildlife Management Area shooting range he asks they call the Wagoner County Sheriff at 918-425-3124.

The victim’s family says Payne is in stable condition.

The Sheriff says neighbors who live behind the tree line at the range heard gunshots around the same time Payne was shot.

Sheriff Colbert says it’s not uncommon to hear gunshots but the multiple rounds and it didn’t sound like a hunter’s gun.

You can also call the OSBI at 1-800-522-8017 if you have any information about the suspects or if you saw suspicious vehicle or any vehicle you saw at the range Thursday morning.

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