Tulsa Police make an arrest in a fatal shooting

Monday, August 8th 2005, 12:49 pm
By: News On 6

A dispute over unpaid rent ends in a shooting. Tulsa homicide detectives are questioning Quentin Nichols. He told them he shot his landlord, Michael James in self-defense.

James died shortly afterward and Tulsa Police must now piece together the facts. As News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright explains, this case involves a motorcycle gang called the Banditos.

The young man in handcuffs is Quentin Nichols. Police say he was renting and living in a house in the 700 block of South Maplewood.

His landlord, Michael James, had been trying to get Nichols to pay his back rent and finally took him to court and there was an eviction hearing scheduled for Monday at 2 PM. But before that hearing, the landlord decided to go by the house and take pictures of any possible damage, so he could show those pictures to the judge. But the landlord didn't go alone. Police says he considers himself to be a member of the Banditos biker gang and took fellow gang members with him for support.

Tulsa Police Sgt Mike Huff: "The homeowner was not alone. He had several people with him and we're trying to determine where they were and what their role in this was." Police say there's no evidence the Banditos had guns, but Nichols says they were very intimidating and he felt threatened and that's why he fired a shot. That shot hit his landlord in the chest and James died.

Nichols initially took off, but then quickly turned himself in to Tulsa Police, claiming self-defense. Sgt Mike Huff: "Initial comments were self-defense in nature, although we can't go into that. We'll take all that into account and the DA's office will make a decision."

Tulsa Police say this situation has been escalating, that when Nichols got his five day notice to pay or get out, his friends retaliated by beating up a member of the Banditos. Then, neighbors say the bikers made a habit of driving by the rent house, yelling racial slurs. Detectives say it seems a bad situation got worse until it finally got out of control.

After interviewing Nichols, Tulsa Police decided to arrest him on a complaint of first degree murder. Factors that played a part in the decision were that Nichols and his landlord never got into a physical confrontation before the shot was fired and how far apart the two were standing when Nichols fired the shot.

The District Attorney will make the final decision on what charge to file against Nichols.