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Shooting suspect shot by Altus police

ALTUS, Okla._Another officer-involved shooting overnight in Altus left one man injured. It's the second time this month officers have returned fire at a suspect.

Overall, it's the fourth shooting in Altus in less than two weeks and it has residents wondering when the violence will end. The latest happened after police were called to the area of north Elm and Hightower on reports of shots fired around midnight. After being identified by a witness, the officers approached the suspect, 22-year-old Bruce Puente. He fired a shot them and then they fired back, hitting him in the stomach.

Several of the shootings have been in the same neighborhood and residents living in the area say they are scared for their safety, as well as their children’s safety.

Sharon Champagne thought what she heard Sunday night was firecrackers, so she went outside to get onto the kids next door.

"I go outside and the cops are there and all the lights are on and there is a man on the ground. It is really scary because within just weeks we've had numerous shootings within the block areas, from Julian Street now onto Hightower where we live at,” said Champagne.

Deputy Police Chief Mike Bell says there are certain groups in town who are shooting at each other, which creates a relatively low risk for Altus residents.

"I'm not saying there is no risk whatsoever because when you have shots being fired, bullets are flying and you don't know where the bullets are going and that's the big concern," said Deputy Chief Bell.

One of the main concerns most citizens have is that the suspects in the majority of these shootings haven't been caught. Bell says he understands the concern and wants to get the guns off the street, but since the Second Amendment guarantees us the right to carry a gun, sometimes they get in the hands of the wrong people.

"It's not that hard to get a hold of a weapon and walk around the street with it. The bad thing is they don't care where they shoot either," said Deputy Chief Bell.

Bell says despite the recent gun violence, Altus still has one of the lowest crime rates in southwest Oklahoma.

"Our detectives are really good at what they do. We tend to solve cases pretty quick. Of course the citizens of Altus are really responsible for that too because they like to call us up and tell us what's going on in the streets," explained Deputy Chief Bell.

Champagne says this isn't very reassuring to her.

"We're moving to Mangum, we're getting out of Altus. It's getting pretty close and we've got small kids that still aren't grown and so it's time to go, it's getting a little to rough over here," said Champagne.

The victim from last night's shooting was taken to Jackson County Memorial and was then flown to OU Medical Center. Both officers were placed on paid administrative leave while OSBI investigates.

Bell says if anyone has any information on any crime to call Crime Stoppers at 580-482-TIPS. Last week a tip allowed them to get one weapon off the street, but they are unsure if it was involved in any of the recent shootings.


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