4-7-04 - Almost 26 years after the darkest day in the history of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, state troopers were working in Bryan County Tuesday to reconstruct what happened. On May 26, 1978, three state troopers lost their lives in two separate gun battles with a pair of escaped convicts from McAlester.
Tuesday’s efforts were aimed at learning from the tragedy. Troopers used aerial photos and reports to reconstruct the scenes of the two deadly shootouts, one on a county road in Kenefic and the other on a city street in Caddo.
Troopers Houston F. "Pappy" Summers and Billy G Young were shot and killed by Claude Dennis and Michael Lancaster near Kenefic, when they stumbled upon the killers along a dirt road. The two fugitives then fled to Caddo, where again, they ambushed two troopers in a neighborhood. James Pat Grimes was killed there. But it was also where Dennis and Lancaster would meet their fate, gunned down outside the home as authorities surrounded it.
On Tuesday, troopers marked the ground with spray paint where each body, car and lawman were on that deadly day. They used a laser device to measure the distances, which will be downloaded onto a computer and then made into an animated movie. The end result will be to train troopers on how to handle standoff and manhunt situations.
Dennis and Lancaster had been on the run for 34 days. During that time, authorities believe they were responsible for 11 murders in several states.
To learn more about Oklahoma's Darkest Day, click click here.