Two drug agents wounded, suspect killed in shootout

LAWTON--A shootout between state and local drug agents and a suspected meth dealer in Lawton on Monday morning sends one agent to the hospital with serious injuries and leaves the suspect dead.

Agents with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and two local drug task forces tried to serve an arrest warrant on 43-year-old Darren Alan Howell.  According to OBN, Howell had long been suspected for years of being a large player in the local meth trade.

"He deals in large qualities of meth.  I mean large bags," said Mark Woodward, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.  "Another reason he's a big target is because he's known to carry guns and have guns in his home."

According to Woodward, agents announced their presence at Howell's apartment, located on the corner of NE 9th Street and Dove Lane in Lawton.  When Howell failed to open the door, agents tried to knock the door down and gunfire erupted from inside the apartment.

"We heard the police shouting, then we heard gunshots and we just kind of hit the deck, you know," said Tina Beltran, who lives in the apartment behind Howell's.

When the gunfire erupted, agents returned fire and shot and killed Howell, but not before two agents were also wounded.  An OBN agent was shot through the hand and treated and released.  A second agent, from the Comanche County DA's Drug Task Force, was hit in the side and underwent emergency surgery at Comanche County Memorial Hospital.  According to OBN, his condition is listed as serious.

Woodward told 7NEWS that an OBN agent had purchased meth from Howell recently in two separate undercover stings.  Woodward said the intent was to take Howell in during a traffic stop this weekend, but Howell never left his apartment.  That's when the decision was made to take Howell in this morning.  Agents entering Howell's apartment found a small quantity of meth, a stash of weapons, and surveillance equipment.  No meth lab was found inside his home.

"We've seen it time and time again.  Drugs and guns do not mix.  This is a tragic situation," said Richard Goss with OSBI.

Because today's shootings involved law enforcement officers, OSBI is handling the investigation.