Oklahoma Fire Chief Killed Over Job Application

MUSTANG, Okla. --

Oklahoma City's top firefighter shared his thoughts and memories Wednesday afternoon of Nichols Hills Fire Chief Keith Bryan.

Mustang police said they could not rule out that a killer upset over a job application was looking for Oklahoma City Fire Chief Keith Bryant instead of Bryan. The two men live only miles apart and have nearly identical names.

However, what is known as of 5 p.m. Wednesday is that a man broke into Bryan's home in Mustang, located in the 1300 block of Rose Hill Drive, through an open garage door late Tuesday night and shot Bryan once in the head. Bryan's wife told police that the killer said, "I'm sorry. You should have given me the (expletive deleted) job."

Bryan died at 6 a.m. Wednesday at OU Medical Center.

Agents with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation are involved in the search for whoever killed Bryan. However, all anybody has to go by is a simple description: A white man between 20 and 30 years old with blonde hair. He was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and was last seen leaving in a dark small-to-medium-sized pickup truck.

OSBI spokeswoman Jessica Brown said agents are "looking for anyone who may have had a grudge against the fire chief."

"Keith was a very positive guy, a great leader for the Nichols Hills Fire Department, a guy I certainly enjoyed a very personal relationship with as well as enjoying working with him professionally," Bryant said.

Nichols Hills officials said they hadn't gone through the hiring process at their fire department since 2007, which led Oklahoma City officials to comb through their records. Bryant said his department took a few extra security measures on Wednesday but didn't change too much.

"We had some law enforcement presence at administration offices today, and -- again -- just make sure that the people coming in (that) we knew who they were and what they were there to do," Bryant said.

Relative to his safety, Bryant said there was no specific information leading authorities to believe the shooter was in fact targeting him.

"I have spoken with our police chief in Oklahoma City this morning, and we addressed any concerns that there might be, and I think -- for now -- I don't feel as if I'm being threatened or in any danger at this point," Bryant said.

"We're sorry for Keith's family in this. It's just something we're all devastated by because, again, he was such a good friend, such a good fire chief and a great person to work with," he added.

Bryan's family spent the day at OU Medical Center, where he died Wednesday morning. He left behind two sons, both parents in their late 80s and a wife, Becky, who watched him die.

The late chief was also a hero to more than just his family. He offered long ago, if something were to happen, to donate his liver to a friend who needed it: the chaplain of the Oklahoma City Fire Department.

Bryan spent 31 years as a firefighter, eventually climbing the ranks to the position of chief in Nichols Hills. City officials released this statement late Wednesday morning:

It is with deepest regret the City of Nichols Hills announces the loss of Fire Chief Keith Bryan. Chief Bryan passed away at 0600 this morning at OU Medical Center. Chief Bryan began his career at Nichols Hills 31 years ago, on August 20, 1980. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.We want to thank everyone who has offered support and encouragement. Obviously this is a very difficult time for the City of Nichols Hills and the Nichols Hills Fire Department. We have had many offers of support and assistance from all area fire departments to man our station, but our firefighters are on duty making calls.Our deepest condolences go out to Chief Bryan's family.

Bryan lived in Mustang and served on the city council for six years including time served as vice mayor during his most recent term.

Mustang Fire Chief Carl Hickman talked with Eyewitness News 5 on Wednesday, saying that "he was not only a good man and respected in this community, but he was well respected across the state."

Nichols Hills Deputy Chief Terry Hamilton has been named the interim chief. Hamilton worked with Bryan for decades. They socialized together and their families went on vacation together, too.

"He was a good friend, and we'll miss him terribly," Hamilton said.

If you have any information about this case, call Mustang Crime Stoppers at 376-0000.

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