Sheriff shot, killed in Pawnee County

Sunday, October 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND, Okla. (AP) _ Pawnee County Sheriff Dwight Woodrell was shot and killed Saturday while investigating suspicious activity outside an oil and gas drilling company near Cleveland, authorities said.

Police and sheriff's deputies searched in vain for a suspect who the mortally wounded sheriff identified by name shortly before his death, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said.

``That's really all we have,'' OSBI spokeswoman Kym Koch said.

Woodrell, 36, was fatally wounded about 3 a.m. outside the offices of Spess Drilling Co., Koch said.

Deputies who responded to Woodrell's call for backup units found him inside his sheriff's unit, Koch said. He had been shot repeatedly but was still conscious and uttered the name of a man who is wanted for questioning, she said.

``He was able to answer some of their questions,'' Koch said. ``We're still trying to piece that together.''

Koch identified the man's name as Robert Weller but said authorities have no age, address or other identifying information. She said records indicate that there are several Oklahomans who share the name.

Koch said the OSBI, Pawnee County sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement agencies fanned out across the county Saturday afternoon in an attempt to positively identify the suspect.

Woodrell was transported to a hospital in Cleveland. He died of multiple gunshot wounds before he could be transferred to a hospital in Tulsa, Koch said.

Woodrell and Pawnee County sheriff's deputies had executed a search warrant in an unrelated case when Woodrell saw suspicious activity outside the drilling firm's offices as he drove home, Koch said.

Woodrell pulled into a parking lot and reported by radio that he had made contact with someone, Koch said. The sheriff asked a dispatcher to contact officials at Spess to determine if the person was authorized to be there.

A short time later, Woodrell called for backup units. Several deputies responded and discovered Woodrell wounded inside his unit, Koch said.

``They did see a red truck pulling out of the driveway,'' Koch said. ``We don't know if that's the suspect vehicle.''

She said a motorist in a truck matching the description of the vehicle was questioned and later released.

Officials at Spess could not be reached for comment.