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Deputies end standoff without injury

DUNCAN, Okla._A woman armed with a gun prompted a terrifying, hour-long standoff outside of a Stephens County church.

Sheriff's deputies were called to the Ray of Hope Church south of Duncan just after 1:00 p.m. Wednesday. There they found a 21-year-old woman, inside the building, armed with a loaded gun. Along with her, there were a dozen church employees. Luckily, they were able to escape just as the woman came outside and starting firing shots into the ground.

No one was injured, which is a huge relief for officers, but for at least an hour, safety was the number one priority for everyone involved, including the shooter.

"The biggest issue of public safety is the citizens, the innocent people who happen to be around a situation like this," said Sheriff Wayne McKinney.

Not long after the Ray of Hope Church was evacuated, the woman holding a loaded gun walked outside to warn officers to stay back.

"...fired one round into the ground not at anybody, walked into an open field and fired another round and then held the gun to her head," said Sheriff McKinney.

Although church employees had reached safety at that point, the field next door posed an even more dangerous situation.

"She started walking toward Highway 81. What we did not want to happen was her leave our perimeter and get onto Highway 81 where you have citizen traffic and danger to the public," explained Sheriff McKinney.

That prompted the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to step in and shut down a portion of the busiest highway in Stephens County just south of Duncan. Meanwhile deputies were with the 21-year-old trying to reason with her any way they could. It's unclear what exactly the woman was trying to say to officers...

"...things that didn't make a lot of sense. We hear quite often people are distraught and upset and she was very upset," said Sheriff McKinney.

But after an hour, a pastor with the Ray of Hope Church who knew the woman was able to walk up and give her a hug. A gesture that signaled the moments of terror were over.

"There's a lot of things that we've been trained on, it's very difficult but a lot of it is just take it as it goes and try to do the best you can and ask for help from our God and hopefully things will work out and it did today," said Sheriff McKinney.

Details are still scarce on exactly who this woman is or why she was at the church. She was taken to Duncan Regional Hospital for a mental evaluation. That's prevented the sheriff's office from releasing her name or whether she'll face any charges at this time.

The Ray of Hope Church says they will be holding all Wednesday night services and classes as originally scheduled.

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