Muskogee community reacts to deadly shooting on day that ‘will live in infamy’

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — The mayor of Muskogee says the killing of five children, one man, and the shooting of another woman in a Muskogee home will go down the most heinous crime in modern city history.

FOX23 spoke with Mayor Marlon Coleman on Tuesday morning as the details were unfolding as to what played out in a home on the southeastern side of town.

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Coleman said Feb. 2, 2021 “will live in infamy” when asked by a FOX23 News reporter about how the community will remember the shocking news of what played out in the early morning hours.

Coleman, who is also a pastor, said there is going to be a long road ahead for the entire community when it comes to the mental health impacts of what happened.

“I’ve got 30 police officers who at some point saw those little children,” Coleman said.

“And I say children because they were all very young. Not one of them was a teenager.”

He said all of those who responded to the scene and witnessed the state of the victims inside the home will speak with a mental health professional on how they feel and how to move forward with what they saw.

The heartbroken and distraught look on officers’ faces as they were dealing with the scene is very reminiscent of how Broken Arrow police officers looked while investigating the infamous Bever family murders back in 2015 where some of the victims were also small children.

Coleman said he is reaching out to multiple leaders in the local faith community to come up with the best ways for the community to mourn, grieve, and express their feelings in a healthy way at this time. He said vigils are in the early planning stages.

“To walk in there and see those young lives cut short that will never be able to live up to their full potential isn’t easy on anyone,” he said.

Some neighbors are also concerned for the health of the children’s mother who if she pulls through will have to be told sooner or later that none of her children survived the incident.

“I can’t even begin to understand how when she wakes up she’s going to process that all of her babies are gone,” said neighbor Brandi Hardesty who lives a couple of blocks away and heard the sirens from emergency responders heading to the scene.

Hardesty kept her daughter home from school who is close in age to at least one of the victims. She said many in the neighborhood are talking about holding vigils while trying to figure out if any of their children were in the same class as any of the victims.

Muskogee Public Schools said some of the victims were enrolled students in a local elementary school.

“How do I explain this to her?” Hardesty said talking about her own daughter.

“Will she even understand what happened over there?”

The victim may not have lived in the area for a long time, according to neighbors, but many of them were able to take note of the large family that recently moved in and the young children who used to live nearby.

“You just have to hug your kids a bit tighter today,” she said.